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House advances youth tanning ban bill, but changes are needed

House advances youth tanning ban bill, but changes are needed

Dustin Hurst
March 6, 2012
Dustin Hurst
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March 6, 2012

After allegations were lobbed by the Idaho Freedom Foundation (IFF) about the motivation for a bill effectively banning youth tanning in the Gem State, the House Health and Welfare Committee decided to take a second look at the measure Tuesday.

On the House floor last week, House Health and Welfare Committee chair Janice McGeachin, R-Idaho Falls, asked that lawmakers send the bill back to her panel after it passed it just days before. Her request followed an email sent by IFF to lawmakers prior to debate alleging dermatologists might actually benefit from such a ban.

As part of their practice, dermatologists occasionally send patients in for tanning therapy and some of them actually own the machines.

Dr. Lindsay Sewell, an Idaho Falls dermatologist, testified via phone that while some doctors prescribe tanning treatments, it’s a seldom-used procedure and the equipment utilized is much different than machines used in salons.
Sewell said the tanning machines might look the same, but that doctors remove more than 109 unnecessary wavelengths and focus on a single one to provide treatments.

The doctor disputed the notion that he and others in his field would gain from the bill’s approval. “We don’t have any financial conflicts of interest with this bill,” Sewell said. “We are not out to make people brown.”

Still, some on the committee objected to the legislation, noting that representatives from the tanning industry were not included in deliberations. “I’m a little concerned the industry wasn’t involved in the writing of this bill,” said Rep. Steve Thayn, R-Emmett. “If you get the two parties together, you get a better result.”

The committee as a whole felt different, and passed the bill on a 7-3 vote.

The bill now heads to the House’s amending order, where changes are likely. The bill’s sponsor, House Minority Leader John Rusche, D-Lewiston, proposed three amendments, including one to allow parents to consent to underage tanning by minors. Another change would require salons to place warning signs near tanning booths.

Wayne Hoffman, IFF's director, said the changes won't improve the legislation. "I have not read the amendments, of course, but, in general, I don't like them," Hoffman said in an email. "It's typical nanny government reaction to an issue best addressed by families."

Note: The Idaho Freedom Foundation publishes IdahoReporter.com.

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