Friday, May 21, 2004

Bill bans teens from tanning booths

SACRAMENTO, California (AP) -- A state famous for tanned bodies and year-round sunshine would be the nation's first to ban teenagers from artificial tanning booths if a bill passed by the state Assembly becomes law.

Lawmakers, citing a rise in skin cancer cases in California and across the nation, voted 42-26 to add artificial tanning to teenage no no's that already include smoking, drinking and buying lottery tickets.

Teens often visit tanning salons before proms, vacations and weddings, say owners of an industry that claims 160,000 employees nationally and $5 billion in annual revenue. California is estimated to have 1,500 tanning salons.

Backers of the bill, including the California Society of Dermatology and Dermatologic Surgery, blame tanning salons for part of 1 million new cases of skin cancer diagnosed every year in the United States. The group cited 7,400 deaths annually from melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer.

"There is a big difference between going to the beach and a tanning salon," said the bill's author, Assemblyman Joe Nation, a Democrat. "When kids go to the beach they put on sun screen."

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