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Democratic Legislation to Help Protect Teens from Skin Cancer Risk Signed Into Law

Caputo, Johnson, Greenwald, Conaway & Lampitt Measure Would Bar Anyone Under 17 from Using Tanning Beds

A measure sponsored by Assembly Democrats Ralph Caputo, Gordon Johnson, Louis Greenwald, Herb Conaway, Jr., M.D. and Pamela Lampitt that will help protect teens from an increased risk of skin cancer by banning access to tanning beds for anyone under 17 years old has been signed into law.

“I think this final product is a healthy compromise that protects as many people as possible while heightening oversight. 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 law is akin to when we raised the tobacco purchasing age. Hopefully time delayed is life saved.”

Caputo, the lead sponsor of the law, noted that it was first introduced last session, but the incident involving the Nutley woman from his legislative district who was accused of bringing her daughter into a tanning booth further underscored 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.

“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 law will help eliminate the possibility that those unfamiliar with these risks would allow a minor to use a tanning bed,” said Johnson (D-Bergen).

The Assembly had originally passed a bill barring anyone under the age of 18 from using a tanning bed. In a compromise reached with the Senate, the new law (A-2142) will now bar anyone under the age of 17 from using tanning beds in New Jersey, regardless of whether they have obtained parental permission. However, the law will allow teens 14 years of age and older to use spray tanning, which does not expose them to UV radiation the way a tanning bed does.

A person 17 years old will be allowed to use a tanning bed, provided that a parent or guardian is present for the initial consultation and purchases all tanning bed sessions for the minor and provides proof of identification. Tanning facilities will be prohibited from allowing anyone 17 years old to use a tanning bed on consecutive days and will be required to monitor the frequency of their use and record all appointments.

Emancipated minors will not be subject to the provisions of the law.

The law was also amended to impose penalties for violating the provisions of the bill as they relate to minors’ use of tanning facilities, which will be $1,000 for the first offense and $2,000 for the second offense, and $2,000 and a five-day suspension of the facility’s registration and operation for a third and subsequent offense.

“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 law will help educate everyone about the risks and ultimately save lives.”

The law will 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.