Assembly Democratic Legislation to Help Protect Teens from Skin Cancer Risk Approved by Full Assembly

Caputo, Johnson, Greenwald, Conaway & Lampitt Measure Would Bar Anyone Under 18 from Using Tanning Beds

The General Assembly on Thursday voted 58-7-13 to approve a measure sponsored by Assembly Democrats Ralph Caputo, Gordon Johnson, Louis Greenwald, Herb Conaway, Jr., M.D. and Pamela Lampitt that would help protect teens from an increased risk of skin cancer by banning access to tanning beds for anyone under 18 years old.

“Increasing the age that individuals can begin exposing themselves to tanning bed rays, will help delay their exposure to potentially cancer-causing ultraviolet radiation,” said Caputo (D-Essex). “This bill is akin to when we raised the tobacco purchasing age to 19. Hopefully time delayed is life saved.”

Caputo, the lead sponsor of the bill, noted that it was first introduced last session, but the recent incident involving the Nutley woman from his legislative district who is accused of bringing her daughter into a tanning booth further underscores the need for the legislation now.

According to the National Cancer Institute and the Centers for Disease Control, individuals who use indoor tanning devices before the age of 35, increase their risk for melanoma by 75 percent. As many as one-in-three American 17-year-old girls use indoor tanning, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.

“I’m sure there are many adults out there who don’t realize how much greater the risk of skin cancer is for young people who use tanning beds. This bill would help eliminate the possibility that those unfamiliar with these risks would allow a minor to use a tanning bed,” said Johnson (D-Bergen).

The bill (A-2142) would bar anyone under the age of 18 from using tanning beds in New Jersey, regardless of whether they have obtained parental permission. However, the bill would allow teens 14 years of age and older, with written permission, to use spray tanning, which does not expose them to UV radiation the way a tanning bed does.

Current law allows emancipated minors and minors between 14 and 18 years of age, who have written authorization from a parent or guardian, to use tanning facilities.

“As a kid, it’s easy to feel invincible to the effects of risky behaviors like smoking and tanning,” said Greenwald (D-Camden/Burlington). “But the earlier one engages in these habits, the more deadly the long-term effects can be. Hopefully this will help stop or at least limit potentially harmful exposure.”

“Ultimately, this is a practical, life-saving measure,” said Conaway (D-Burlington). “A number of studies have shown that the earlier a person starts using tanning beds, the greater their risk of developing skin cancer.”

“Research shows that melanoma is on the rise and the increase is greatest among young women, the largest demographic of tanning bed users,” said Lampitt (D-Camden/Burlington). “Hopefully this bill will help educate everyone about the risks and ultimately save lives.”

The bill would take effect six months after enactment. Currently, California and Vermont have laws preventing minors under the age of 18 from using tanning beds. At least 25 other states have varying restrictions on teen tanning.

The measure now awaits consideration by the Senate.