After weeks of debate on the issue, the Idaho House of Representatives voted Tuesday 39-30 to ban tanning for some minors, sending the legislation on to the Senate for consideration.
The bill, sponsored by House Minority Leader John Rusche, D-Lewiston, would do several things to thwart youth tanning.
- First, it completely bans tanning for teens under 15 years of age. Anyone violating that rule could be charged with a misdemeanor.
- Next, the legislation requires that teens from 16 to 18 have parental consent to tan. Consent wouldn't include handwritten notes from parents, but would rather require a parent or guardian to give consent to a salon in person prior to the first tanning session. During that visit, parents would be required to sign a consent form notifying them of the cancer risks tied to tanning.
- Even with parental consent, those teens would only be allowed to tan up to three times each week and no more than once in any 24-hour period.
- The legislation would also require salons to post signs near their entrances to warn of the possible cancer risk. "Ultraviolet radiation from tanning devices is known to cause cancer in humans," the signs would have to say. Signs would also have to be posted within three feet of any tanning device in a salon.
Home tanning devices are exempt from the rules proscribed in the bill.
Rusche told colleagues on the House floor that tanning presents a cancer risk and that more education and prevention efforts are needed. House Health and Welfare chair Janice McGeachin, R-Idaho Falls, sided with Rusche, commenting that she couldn't think of one reason for a person under 15 years to be in a tanning bed. "It's causing people to get sick and die," McGeachin said.
Though the legislation passed Tuesday by the House was a less-stringent ban than the initially proposed version, many lawmakers still couldn't get behind it. Rep. Erik Simpson, R-Idaho Falls, said the law would force businesses to denigrate the very product they sell. Other lawmakers worried the bill goes too far in regulation of business.
An earlier version of the bill would have completely banned tanning for all youth under 18 and included home tanning beds. That would have tied Idaho with California for having the most stringent tanning bans in the country.
That version was tossed back and forth among the House floor, the amending order and the committee to find an acceptable compromise.
The prior version also didn’t include a parental consent exemption, which could have been a death knell for the legislation had it not been pulled back into committee. In first testimony on the issue, a number of lawmakers argued that parental rights trump state law and that the bill was a massive overreach of government power and authority.