DENVER (AP/CBS4) – A ban on the use of commercial tanning beds by children won initial approval in the Colorado House on Wednesday.

The bill would prohibit anyone under 18 from using a tanning salon. It was approved on an unrecorded voice vote and faces one more formal vote before heading to the Senate.

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Colorado is one of the few states with no restrictions on minors in tanning beds, though many Colorado salons place voluntary limits on childhood use.

“This is a matter of life and death,” argued the sponsor of the bill, Democratic Rep. Cherylin Peniston of Westminster.

Some Republicans tried to amend the bill to allow 16- and 17-year-olds to visit tanning beds if they have parental permission. Republican Rep. Cheri Gerou of Evergreen called it a reasonable compromise that would empower parents to make the right decisions about tanning beds.

Peniston said that wouldn’t work because of the way permission slips would be enforced.

“One parent permission slip, one consent form, and that’s it for the whole rest of the time,” Peniston said. “For two years in the kid’s life this 16- or 17-year-old can go in and tan every day.”

Democrats rejected the amendment, citing doctors and cancer advocates who say tanning beds are like tobacco and should be considered off-limits to children.

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After the amendment failed, Republican Rep. Mark Waller of Colorado Springs said it goes too far.

“More of we know what’s better for you than you do,” Waller said, shaking his head at Democratic colleagues in the House.

Peniston insisted the measure is a needed safety improvement and won’t keep teenagers from tanning – just from using the artificial tanning beds.

“Spray tanning is a safe and accessible alternative,” Peniston said. Addressing the state’s teens, she added, “You can still look pretty at prom.”

At least 33 states and Washington, D.C., have some limits on childhood tanning bed use, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. But only five states – California, Illinois, Nevada, Texas and Vermont – prohibit all commercial tanning bed use by minors.

LINK: House Bill 1054

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