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Anti-Cancer Groups Want N.J. To Ban Indoor Tanning For Those Under 18

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By John Ostapkovich and Robin Rieger

TRENTON, N.J. (CBS) - The American Cancer Society and other groups are renewing their call for New Jersey to ban the use of tanning beds by those under 18 years of age.

The push is not due to the recent hue and cry over that New Jersey mom and her child in a tanning facility (see related story and photo above), but to what American Cancer Society vice-president Blair Horner says are scary new figures.

“We’re releasing new data showing that, over the last 10 years, the rate of melanoma cases has gone up by 43 percent, which is a staggering number in New Jersey,” he tells KYW Newsradio.

And, Horner says, Mayo Clinic data show that among those under 40, there is eight times as much melanoma among women, and four times among men.

Allie Dougherty who says she started using tanning beds at 16 was diagnosed with stage 3 melanoma at 21.

“I didn’t believe it could happen to me but it did. It was really the result of poor choices, choices I should not have been given the opportunity to make,” said Dougherty.

In Lumberton, Dazzle Me Bronze owner Sally Van Laarhoven says she doesn’t believe that tanning causes any type of skin cancer. She says she will fight the proposed legislation. She says right now about 30 percent of her state regulated business is high school students.

“It would hurt my business it would hurt any other tanning salon. Not only that I create jobs,” said VanLaarhoven.

Horner says a bill banning teen use of tanning beds passed the state senate, but died at the end of the last session. He’s hoping that after the budget is passed, lawmakers can fast-track a measure to passage this time around.

Terri Thomas, a mom, says lawmakers are overstepping their bounds.

“It should be a parent’s decision whether they let their child do whatever. They are taking away a parent’s right to choose for their own kid,” said Thomas who said when her daughter was in high school, she let her use an indoor tanning bed before the prom.

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