Cancer survivors ask Oklahoma lawmakers to ban teens from tanning beds
OKLAHOMA CITY - It's a common practice for teenage girls to get into a tanning bed before a big date or a dance, but now lawmakers said that all could change.
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"If you're going to let your kid lay in a tanning bed, as far as I'm concerned, get her a pack of cigarettes," said Caryn Ross at a gathering at the Oklahoma State Capitol on Tuesday.
House Bill 1471 would ban people under the age of 18 from tanning beds.
In 2013, the FDA said 1.6 million minors used an indoor tanning device, but doctors said it's a dangerous practice.
"UVB exposure, tan exposure, occurs before age 18 at least 60 percent," said Raymond Cornelison, a dermatologist.
Cornelison said skin is still developing at that age, and damage can have lasting consequences.
Tammy Padgett was diagnosed with skin cancer twice last year after cancerous spots were found on her head.
She blames the diagnosis on using tanning beds when she was young.
"I went before spring break and even before my honeymoon. I thought that that would help me get a healthy tan, and I've learned that's not the case," Padgett said. "There's no such thing as a base tan. It's skin damage."
Now, Padgett has to be checked by a dermatologist every six months.
Padgett said she is going door-to-door, hoping legislators will listen to her story and support House Bill 1471.
"Just like they do with the legal age on smoking. You can't buy cigarettes if you're under 18," she said.
"Well, you shouldn't be able to use tanning beds either. They're the same class of carcinogen."
Tuesday afternoon, the hearing started early, passing and going on to the next stage.
The committee voted 9-1 in favor of the bill.
The next vote will be Feb. 24.
In all, 42 states and Washington D.C. have laws against tanning for minors.
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