Should Ohio Outlaw Teen Tanning?

Walk into a tanning salon on any given afternoon and you'll probably find at least one high-school student emerging from session of body baking. But that kind of sighting may soon be rare in Ohio, where a bill has been proposed to ban tanning-bed use by anyone under 18.

Introduced by a bipartisan pair of representatives, House Bill 173 carries the hope of curbing the growing number of skin cancer cases in young people. Currently, Ohio allows teens to tan with parental permission, which is already more rigid than many other states. However, if the bill passes, minors will require a doctor's prescription in order to enter a tanning bed. It would be one of the most stringent tanning regulations in the nation.

“Many have clamored that if we prohibit the use of tanning beds for minors we might as well ban poolside and beach tanning, but that argument is moot. The amount of radiation produced during indoor tanning, in many cases, is stronger that the sun," Rep. Courtney Combs told the Dayton Daily News. “There is direct evidence that exposure to UV radiation during indoor tanning damages the DNA in the skin cells. Studies have shown that 80 percent of skin damage happens before the age of 18.”

The bill has been met with mixed reactions. Not surprisingly, the response from tanning-salon owners has been mostly disapproving. Also voicing objection is the Indoor Tanning Association, which represents indoor-tanning manufacturers, distributors, and facility owners. They argue that if a parent's permission is enough let a 16-year-old to get married in Ohio, it should be enough to let them use a tanning bed.

Among the bill's supporters is Miss Ohio, Karissa Martin, who uses her own frightening experience with abnormal skin cells at age 14 to educate teens about skin cancer risks.