Illinois governor signs law restricting teen tanning

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Reporter - Kendall Downing

WILLIAMSON COUNTY, Ill. - Teens: tan no more. Illinois Governor Pat Quinn signed a law Thursday restricting the use of tanning beds to only those who are 18 years of age and older, saying he's protecting the health of the state's youth.

Under current law, teens in Illinois between the ages of 14 and 17 could tan with a parent's permission.

The American Academy of Dermatology reports teenagers make up about 8% of indoor tanners in the United States.

The American Medical Association and American Cancer Society strongly supported the tanning ban in Illinois to increase the awareness of skin cancers, like melanoma.

Inside Amazon Salon & Tan in Herrin, the focus is hair. But owner Holly Burks said their tanning beds get a lot of action, too.

"I'd say about 20 to 25 percent of our tanners are under the age of 18. We have a nice-sized high school and we pull a lot of business from that," she said.

The new law cutting teen tanners has her concerned. She's worried losing a customer base will hurt the bottom line.

Burks said demand can be so high for a tanning bed among teens at homecoming and prom time there's often a waiting list and standing room only.

"I think it's a public health issue. We are going to save lives by preventing the children from being in tanning beds," said Melody Hof, a Physician Assistant at Southern Illinois Dermatology.

Hof applauds the state's move.

She said frequent teen tanners don't notice the side-effects until they are older. By then the damage is done.

"We'll see more of these 30 to 40 year olds that say I tanned a lot, I'm starting to get these areas, I wish I wouldn't have tanned," she said.

Burks said the tanning industry in Illinois is highly regulated and businesses like hers act responsibly. Still, with the new law she believes fewer clients likely means less money.

"There's potential that if we don't see the prom and homecoming rush my receptionists will have their hours cut," she said.

The new law takes effect January 1, 2014.

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