Proponents Push For Bill That Would Ban Those Under 18 From Access To Tanning Facilities

COLUMBUS, Ohio – Backers of a bill that would prevent those under 18 from having access to tanning facilities in the state of Ohio, unless prescribed by a doctor took their cause to the Statehouse Wednesday, asking for lawmakers to pass the measure.

“We know that alcohol and tobacco are harmful. We have laws for them to protect children and teenagers,” mother Andrea Flinta told the House Health and Aging Committee of House Bill 131, sponsored by state Reps. Michael Stinziano, a Columbus Democrat and Dr. Terry Johnson, a McDermott Republican.

“In my discussion with people, two questions have been asked: Why don’t the majority of people know this information, and why are there laws for protection. I’m trying,” said Flinta, whose daughter, Stephanie, contracted melanoma and who had used a tanning bed. Stephanie Flinta’s melanoma was caught early and did not spread, her mother said.

Stephanie Flinta asked lawmakers for their help in preventing other youngsters from having access to tanning beds.

“I didn’t even tan for long and I got melanoma.  Putting restrictions on tanning and letting others know how dangerous it can be will help get others to stop so they don’t have to go through the horrible experience that I did,” Stephanie Flinta said in testimony.

Dr. Mark Bechtel, director of dermatology at the Ohio State University College of Medicine, told lawmakers that now was the time to act.

“Now is the time for the Ohio Legislature to take bold action to protect our children and reduce the risk of skin cancer by enacting HB 131,” the doctor told the committee.

The bill would also require tanning facilities to “make reasonable efforts” to ensure that patrons are 18 or older.

According to the Ohio State Medical Association, which backs the bill, indoor tanning causes melanoma and non-melanoma skin cancers.

Among those who had ever used a tanning device, 76 percent of melanomas were attributable to tanning bed use, the OSMA has said.

“We need to do all we can to protect children from the harmful effects of ultraviolet radiation from indoor tanning,” said Stinziano. “I urge my colleagues to pass this bipartisan bill.”

The House Health and Aging Committee continues to study the bill.