Cancer advocates urge Governor to sign public tanning bill

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network is encouraging Governor Jim Justice to sign a bill that would prohibit anyone under the age of 18 to use indoor tanning devices in West Virginia.

“This is something that would prevent cancer for kids in West Virginia, so we’re very hopeful that he would sign this,” said Juliana Frederick-Curry, West Virginia’s government relations director for ACS CAN.

The bill, HB 2520, was approved by both the state Senate and state House of Delegates last week. It was then sent to the governor.

Under current state law, anyone over the age of 14 can use a public tanning device. Those between the age of 14-18 need parental consent.

Frederick-Curry said the law doesn’t go far enough to protect all teens. She said older teens are more likely to use tanning beds.

“Teens that are 16, 17, 18 are twice as likely to tan than those that are 14 and under, so we knew that to really protect those at most risk, the law needed to be stronger,” she said.

Many high school girls, she said, use tanning beds for proms or special events.

“1 in 9 high school girls have used a tanning devices with numbers increasing to 1 in 6 by their senior year. That’s a significant amount of teens that are tanning,” she said.

People who use tanning devices are increasing their risk of cancer, specifically melanoma, Frederick-Curry said.

“Melanoma is currently the second most common cancer among females ages 15-29 and the second most common cancer among females ages 25-29, so it’s something that is really affecting young individuals,” she said.

The risk for melanoma with indoor tanning use increases by 59 percent, Frederick-Curry said. That risk increases for those under the age of 25.

Currently, 15 states have laws that prohibit minors from using indoor tanning devices.

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