House Bill 486, which would make tanning under the age of 16 a crime, failed to pass through the Senate Health and Welfare Committee on Thursday on a 5-3 vote.
The bill, which was approved in the House just two days earlier with amendments, took nearly 90 minutes to debate in committee.
Rep. John Rusche, D-Lewiston, proposed the bill.
Rusche said the legislation is intended to keep youth safe from the exposure to the dangers of using tanning beds, which has been linked in studies to melanoma.
Originally the bill said that minors under the age of 18 could not use tanning beds at all. After amendments in the House, minors from 16-18 years of age can use beds with parental consent. Those under the age of 16 cannot. The bill excluded home tanning beds.
Tanning salons would be required to post signs near entrances warning of the dangers of using tanning beds. The signs would be fairly small, only two inches high.
Dr. Steven Mings, a dermatologist from Boise, testified in favor of the bill, saying he had never testified before, and probably wouldn’t do it again, but he was there for one reason—because he is on the “front lines” against this skin cancer.
Mings said there is no absolute way to pin down if a tanning bed caused someone’s melanoma, but that it is a risk factor, much like there are risk factors associated with other diseases. “The analogy that I give to patients is heart disease. ‘So, am I going to have a heart attack?’ Well, there are a number or risk factors that will increase your risk, but I can’t tell you for sure if you’re going to have one. But, I know your risk is higher if you smoke, and if you’re obese, and if you have high blood pressure, and if you have a family history, and a series of other risk factors.”
While most of those testifying were in favor of the legislation, there were a few who were adamantly against it.
One of those opposed was Erik Makrush from the Idaho Freedom Foundation, His opposition was philosophical-based. “The nanny state of government keeps getting the proverbial nose of the camel under the tent,” he said, adding that parental rights should count for something and this bill impinges on them
Joe Levy, executive director of the International Smart Tan Network, which is an educational institute for proper tanning in tanning beds, said the proponents of the bill grossly misrepresented the facts about melanoma and the effects from tanning beds.
Levy said that the study used as a basis for the bill was not looked at properly. He said that if you separate home units from medical units from salon units, the data shows that the units in salons do not increase the risk of melanoma.
Levy also said that the studies used by proponents are retrospective survey studies, not clinical studies.
After hearing testimony, Sen. Les Bock, D-Boise, moved to send the bill to the floor with a do-pass recommendation. Sen. Melinda Smyser, R-Parma, moved for a substitute motion to hold in committee, and it passed 5-3.
Note: The Idaho Freedom Foundation publishes IdahoReporter.com.