INDIANAPOLIS | Two Valparaiso University students asked state lawmakers Monday to prohibit Indiana residents younger than 18 from using ultraviolet tanning beds.
Ashley Watson, of Kenosha, Wis., and Bethany Garling, of Zionsville, Ind., who are studying social work at VU, told the General Assembly's Health Finance Commission that minors don't fully understand the risks associated with tanning.
"Research shows that skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the United States," Watson said. "Seventy-five percent of all skin cancer-related deaths are caused by melanoma, and 65 percent of melanoma developments are attributable to UV rays."
Current Indiana law allows 16- and 17-year-olds to use tanning beds with a parent's permission. Legislation setting a minimum tanning age of 18 did not advance out of a Senate committee earlier this year.
Watson said Indiana needs to catch up to Illinois and most other states by prohibiting minors from using tanning beds.
"This is a serious and growing issue, making this policy extremely pertinent," she said.
Garling urged the panel, which includes state Sen. Ed Charbonneau, R-Valparaiso, and state Rep. Charlie Brown, D-Gary, to ensure any prohibition on tanning by minors imposes significant penalties on tanning salons that break the law.
"Ultimately it's our responsibility to protect the health and well-being of our children," Garling said. "We ask that you take decisive action to stop this reckless and unnecessary exposure to UV rays."
Brown said he expects a recommendation for tanning restrictions will be included in the commission's final report to the legislature.