By Gintautas Dumcius and Michael Norton
STATE HOUSE NEWS SERVICE
STATE HOUSE -- The Massachusetts House on Tuesday advanced a bill restricting indoor tanning for teenagers.
Under the bill (S 1904), individuals under 16 may not use a tanning device unless they have a written order by a physician. Teenagers 16 and 17 years old could use a tanning device if accompanied by a parent or legal guardian.
While many states have laws that ban indoor tanning for teens, current law in Massachusetts permits individuals between 14 and 17 to tan with parental permission and those under 14 may tan if accompanied by a parent.
The federal Food and Drug Administration in May issued an order reclassifying sunlamp products, including tanning beds and booths, from "low-risk" to "moderate-risk" devices. The order also requires the products to have a "visible black-box warning" stating it should not be used on a person under 18.
The FDA said the products emit ultraviolet radiation that may cause skin cancer.
Sen. James Timilty (D-Walpole), co-chairman of the Public Safety Committee, told colleagues last week that he has filed the bill to stop young people from excessive tanning and to raise awareness of an increase in melanoma, a deadly form of skin cancer, particularly among women in their 20s and 30s.
"Much of the UV exposure that leads to skin cancer is incurred during childhood and in the teenage years and current law does not adequately address this public health issue by limiting access to the damaging ultraviolet rays of indoor tanning beds," Timilty said.
The House's initial approval of the bill came during an informal session on Tuesday. While formal sessions ended for the year last Thursday, lawmakers meeting in informal sessions may continue advancing bills to Gov. Deval Patrick for the rest of 2014 as long as no one objects. On Monday, the House advanced 20 bills in 21 minutes.
The Senate passed the tanning bill on Tuesday, July 29 and has approved similar bills in past legislative sessions.
Timilty said states with an 18-and-under ban on indoor tanning include California, Delaware, Louisiana, Illinois, Nevada, Minnesota, Oregon, Texas and Vermont.
Under the bill, tanning facilities cannot employ a person under the age of 18 as an operator of a tanning device.