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Dermatologist Discusses Tanning Bed Bill Before Legislature
Updated January 22, 2014 7:01 AM | Filed under: Health
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(UNDATED) - A bill to restrict tanning bed use for some teenagers has changed from previous versions, and supporters say that makes it more likely to be approved by the Legislature this year.

In the past, supporters of reducing the use of tanning beds have wanted to ban anyone under the age of 18 from using them. Instead, the bill has been re-written to bar anyone under 16 from using tanning beds. It would continue current state law for 16 and 17-year-olds, which allows tanning bed use with the written permission of a parent or guardian.

It isn't perfect, but the compromise is acceptable to at least one dermatologist.

"It makes sense, because these are young people who don't know the ramifications of tanning," said Dr. Christopher Obeime with St. Vincent Hospital, who has been lobbying for the bill along with other members of the Indiana Academy of Dermatology.

Some tanning bed owners say the bill is an intrusion on their private businesses and say it will cost them money.

Obeime doesn't believe that. "They have ways they can still make their money doing safe tanning practices, such as sprays or creams (for teens), plus they can continue to allow adults. If they adults want to do it, they are free to do so."

Obeime also says if anyone has money to lose on this issue, it's dermatologists. "I'm hurting my business trying to prevent melanoma. If we as dermatologists prevent it, we lose business, but it's a community service."

Others have argued that tanning beds are a way for people to get Vitamin D, since it is generated when ultraviolet light makes contact with the skin. "Every adult needs about 600 international units of Vitamin D every day. But if you eat a well balanced meal, you get more than enough," said Obeime, regardless of how much natural or artificial sunlight you are exposed to.

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