By Steve Tawa and Jenn Bernstein
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Philadelphia City Council will take up a bill later this month to regulate tanning salons, now that it’s been approved in committee.
The measure prohibits those under 18 years of age from going into a tanning facility unless they have the permission of and are accompanied by a parent or legal guardian. Councilman Bill Greenlee read aloud a letter from a 29-year-old woman who began using tanning salons at age 17, to look good for her prom.
“Even the most mature teenagers do not always consider future repercussions and make decisions accordingly,” the letter read.
The woman has been diagnosed with melanoma on two different occasions.
Dr. Bruce Brod, a dermatologist on staff at the University of Pennsylvania Department of Dermatology, says there should be more public awareness about the harmful effects of UV radiation.
“To me, it’s inconceivable that we don’t attempt to limit children from engaging in indoor tanning,” said Dr. Brod.
He says national indoor tanning rates among girls range from more than 8% for 14 year olds to nearly 27% for 17 year old girls.
“People who use tanning beds,” Brod said, “even a moderate amount, are significantly at increased risks for developing melanoma.”
Eyewitness News talked to Councilman-at-Large Bill Greenlee, who sponsored the bill.
“I think that’s one of the things that government should do is look out for people’s health, and we have warnings on things like cigarettes, beer,” said Greenlee.
And if the city passes the bill, it would follow a growing trend.
In May, legislation requiring parental-consent for minors in West Virginia was signed into law, and a recent law in New Jersey banned anyone under the age of 17 from using tanning beds.
According to the National Conference of State Legislature’s website, Pennsylvania and Alabama are the only states east of the Mississippi River that have no tanning booth regulations on the books.
At Center City’s megaSun Tanning, owner Dan Bouikidis says he’s created his own regulations, despite it not being required to.
New customers must sign a consent form that states the risks of tanning, and customers under 16 need a parent or legal guardian’s signature.
“Anyone 14 and under, we don’t tan,” said Bouikidis, who also says all of his customers at this location are above 18, so he doesn’t think the legislation will affect business.
“At the South Philly location, will it hurt business a little bit? Sure it is. Am I happy with it? No,” admitted Bouikidis. “But as long as they go after the gyms that offer tanning and stuff like that, and make sure they do what’s right, I’m fine with it.”
City Council members are scheduled to vote on the tanning bill next week.