Tanning Salons React To NC Teen Tan Ban Bill

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Should you have to be 18-years-old to use a tanning bed? Some legislators think so. They say it's a health issue. Right now teenagers are allowed to use tanning beds with a parent's permission.

We spoke with workers at a couple of Craven County tanning bed salons who say they have a lot of young clients and this kind of law would really hurt business.

Medical and cancer-prevention groups support this bill, but a recent vote was delayed after a spokesman for a tanning industry-funded group argued lawmakers were misinformed.

The tanning appointment book at Rachel's Hair and Tan in Vanceboro is full of teen clients as the prom season kicks off. Kimberly Plemons says teens make up a majority of her clientele through May, but she says they advise teens the amount of time they should be exposed to the ultraviolet rays.

"We start them off anywhere from 3 minutes on up and we build them on up depending on their skin levels," said Plemons.

"Right now, right before prom season is really good business," said Kelsey Sprencel who works at at Sun Soakers 2 in New Bern

January through May is the New Bern salon's busiest time for tanners, and Sprencel says the majority of them are high schoolers.

The law would attempt to protect against possible skin cancer especially for the youngest tanners. Current law allows teens ages 14-17 to tan with parental permission and kids 13 and under to tan as long as they have a doctor's note.

"Doctors actually prescribe it for depression, vitamin D deficiency, psoriasis, emphysema, acne," said Sprencel.

The salons say if the ban on beds for people under 18 happens, it could mean lights out for a lot of North Carolina tanning businesses.

The vote on the bill will most likely take place Tuesday, once the opposition has the chance to explain in more detail about tanning.
The tanning industry told lawmakers tanning can be safe if done in moderation.

California and Vermont banned tanning beds and devices for anyone under 18, and similar legislation has been introduced in eight other states this year.