DENVER (CBS4) – There’s a new push to prevent teens from using tanning beds in Colorado. This time, however, one lawmaker wants to make it a lot tougher.

A full ban on youths in tanning beds has won initial approval in the Colorado Legislature. It passed on a party-line 6-5 vote, with all Democrats in favor.

It’s the third year in a row the tanning beds issue has been presented to the Colorado Legislature, and it’s the toughest bill yet. The bill bans indoor tanning for anyone under age 18, even if they have a doctor’s prescription or permission from parents.

While the Indoor Tanning Association disputes the link between UV exposure and cancer, the World Health Organization classifies tanning beds as high level carcinogens.

Colorado is one of only 15 states that have no age restrictions on indoor tanning.

“They took out a large chunk of my right arm,” Jodi Duke said.

Duke was 18 years old when doctors told her she had malignant melanoma and might die.

“That just changed my life, it changed everything,” she said.

Duke said she had become addicted to tanning beds.

“I was drawn to go to the tanning beds.”

She’s convinced that’s what caused her cancer, and for years now she has pushed to ban indoor tanning for teenagers.

“This is a life and death issue,” said Rep. Cherylin Peniston, D-Westminster.

Peniston asked a House committee to pass legislation that would ban anyone under age 18 from using a tanning bed.

“We feel like it’s a decision that should be made with the parents,” said Dwayne Jones with At the Beach tanning salons, which operates 31 stores in Denver.

Jones said teens represent 10 percent of his business at some stores. But he said they already ban anyone under age 14 and require parental permission for those under 18.

“We try to teach smart, sun care, responsible sun care, and this is really taking that responsibility away from us and putting it in the hands of the government,” Jones said.

“Businesses shouldn’t be earning their profits on the backs of our kids,” Peniston said.

Duke said age limits are set for cigarettes and alcohol and it’s time it was for tanning beds as well.

“We have, I think, a responsibility to protect the population, to protect the kids especially,” Duke said.

A recent study in the Journal of the American Medical Association found the number of skin cancer cases due to indoor tanning is higher than the number of lung cancer cases due to smoking.

In the past three years, six states, including California and Texas have banned indoor tanning for those under age 18.

LINK: House Bill 1054


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