Proposed NYS Legislation Would Ban Indoor Tanning for Teens

May 2, 2012 Updated May 2, 2012 at 8:52 PM EDT

By Kyla Igoe

May 2, 2012 Updated May 2, 2012 at 8:52 PM EDT

Buffalo, NY (WKBW) -Should teens under 18 be allowed to tan in indoor tanning facilities? It's a question that is up for debate in Albany.

Marking Skin Cancer Awareness Month, the Erie County Health Commissioner joined representatives from the American Cancer Society & Roswell Park Cancer Institute (RPCI) to show their support of pending legislation in the New York State Senate that would ban minors under the age of 18 from using indoor tanning facilities.

The bill has already passed the New York State Assembly and advocates would like to see the legislation passed in the senate. 27-year-old Scott Hangauer was diagnosed with Melanoma 2 years ago. Hangauer says in high school he went tanning everyday.

"It was really trying going through 10 hours of surgery on my neck, then undergoing chemotherapy," said Hangauer.

According to physicians, Melanoma is the second most common cancer in people ages 15-29.

"I'm seeing more melanoma patients under 30 in my practice," said Dr. Ilene Rothman, with RPCI's Dermatology Department.

Not everyone is encouraged by this bill. Local tanning salons believe this proposal would have a detrimental effect on business and could impact hundreds of jobs. Owners add they are already one of the most regulated industries in the state and already follow strict guidelines. They argue like everything in life, moderation is key and say UV devices can have benefits to users.

"I think this should be the right of parents, not the government," said Tanning Bed Inc. President Dan Humiston. "There's an enormous benefit of being out in the sun, Vitamin B for one. It has wonderful health benefits but people are now afraid of the sun because of these scare tactics. A lot of people say tanning in a tanning bed is not the same as being out in the sun and that's misleading. UV light is UV Light. It's exactly the same in a tanning bed as it is in the sun."

Currently in New York State minors 14 and older are allowed to tan with consent of a guardian or parent.