Despite self-regulating efforts by the indoor tanning industry, the Public Health Committee moved forward Monday with SB 872, legislation banning the use of tanning devices for anyone under the age of 18.
Hoping to head-off stricter regulations this year, the tanning industry has implemented self-policing measures requiring parental consent before minors are allowed to use indoor tanning devices. The voluntary measures have been adopted by at least 100 tanning salons across the state.
But the committee voted 25-2 to ban tanning for minors.
Several lawmakers on the public health committee commended the industry for its efforts, but said banning indoor tanning for minors was an appropriate step to protect the public. The committee removed language from the bill which would have allowed people under the age of 18 to use tanning devices if they had a statement from a doctor.
Rep. Phillip Miller, D-Essex, said the evidence against tanning was stronger this year than when similar legislation came up in previous sessions.
“I don’t think until now we had as much evidence that really shows in totality that this is a technology which can be dangerous,” he said.
Rep. Whit Betts, R-Bristol, acknowledged the self-policing efforts by the tanning industry but said he didn’t think they went far enough to protect minors.
“I’m not convinced that a lot of parents frankly, are going to sign, or really understand what they’re going to be signing when they have their kids under the age of 18 going into the indoor tanning,” he said.
Rep. Melissa Ziobron, R-East Haddam, said she understood the reasons for the bill but thought the decision to prohibit minors from tanning should be left up to their parents.
“I’m really concerned about the nanny state we seem to be becoming, regarding taking away parental responsibility and those decisions from parents,” she said.
Tom Kelleher, who owns Tommy’s Tanning, a chain of salons with 14 locations in Connecticut, said he was disappointed by the committee’s decision to move the bill forward. He said lawmakers haven’t given the tanning industry time to implement its self-imposed protocols regarding minors.
“The tanning industry is doing the responsible thing. They are self-regulating tanning by minors,” he said.
Kelleher asked that lawmakers give the industry until next year to present the Public Health Committee with a report on its “minor’s protocol.”