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Illinois looks to ban teens from tanning

Elizabeth Janowski, who owns a tanning salon on Chicago’s Northwest side, is just beginning to feel the financial burden of Chicago’s recent tan ban, but tanning salons all across Illinois soon could face the same hardships, thanks to a new bill being considered by the Illinois House of Representatives.

In the summer time, fewer teens get a fake tan because of the natural burn they get from the sun. Now that winter is passing and school socials, prom and spring break are near, teens are trying to get their golden brown color. Rep. Robyn Gabel (D-Evanston), however, is trying to get Illinois to join Chicago and Springfield in banning any ultra-violet tanning for children under the age of 18.

“We will know more next month,” said Janowski of the impact the law will have on her business.

HB0188, proposed by Gabel, forbids any tanning salon to admit teens, even with parental consent, to use equipment that emits UV radiation. However, the bill does not impose any fine on tanning salons that do not comply.

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If passed, Illinois would be just the third state to have such a ban. Other states either have no ban on tanning or a certain ban that requires approval from a guardian.

The World Health Organization has classified the rays coming out of the tanning beds as a class one carcinogen,” said Gabel. “There are many studies that have been done that show how dangerous it is.”

Cigarettes and plutonium are also considered class one carcinogens.

Tracie Cunningham, executive director for the American Suntan Association said, it could actually be more harmful to the body to get a natural suntan as opposed to one from a tanning bed.

“We offer controlled dosages,” said Cunningham. “Sun burning is where the damage is.”

If passed, the law will likely be followed by tanning salons, said Cunningham and Gabel. In other regions where the law was enacted, they have not heard of law breaking.

If salons did want to permit teens under 18 years of age to use equipment that emits UV rays, the bill does not offer an agency to impose punishment.

Cunningham said they oppose any teen ban on tanning.

“We are the main source of education for these kids,” said Cunningham.

Currently, there are no bans on spray tanning in Illinois. Gabel said spray tans are a healthy alternative and salons can still keep their younger clientele.

A recent recommendations report by the International Agency for Research on Cancer supports banning tanning.“Policymakers should consider enacting measures, such as prohibiting minors and discouraging young adults from using indoor tanning facilities, to protect the general population from possible additional risk for melanoma,” the report states.

It is unclear if other states will adopt the same full bans as California and Vermont.

“Generally when large states do it, other states follow,” said Karmen Hanson, policy analyst at the National Conference of State Legislatures.

According to Gabel, the legislation has picked up steam since Chicago and Springfield have enacted the full ban. Chicago’s ban could severely dent Janowski’s salon in the upcoming months.

“Absolutely this [law] will hurt us,” said Janowski, owner of Golden Brown Tan on Chicago’s Northwest side. “Young people are not coming and we lose money.”

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