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TRENTON, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) — The New Jersey Assembly put the state a step closer Thursday to banning the use of tanning beds by anyone under 18, a measure that got renewed attention after a Nutley woman was accused of taking her young daughter into the booth with her.
Current law bans the use of tanning beds by youngsters under 14 and requires written parental consent for teenagers 14 to 17. The measure to ban them outright for teenagers was approved 58-7 on Thursday, with 13 abstentions. It now heads to the Senate for consideration.
A deeply tanned New Jersey mom was subject to widespread criticism when she was accused of endangering her 5-year-old daughter by allowing her to use a tanning bed. The mother, Patricia Krentcil, has pleaded not guilty.
Assemblyman Ralph Caputo said that while Krentcil brought attention to the legislation, the medical evidence shows a need for an outright ban. Supporters cite studies showing indoor tanning use increases the risk of melanoma, and estimates that one in three American 17-year-olds uses indoor tanning beds.
“Just asking a parent to sign, whether it’s once or twice or whatever, is not going to do it,” said Caputo, a Democrat and the legislation’s prime sponsor. “And we’re here for one purpose: to save lives.”
Members of the New Jersey Indoor Tanning Association called the bill a major overreach that will cripple small businesses and drive teens to riskier alternatives like home tanning units and overexposure outdoors. The group instead wants stronger parental controls and increased fines for violations of the existing law.
The bill would also require parental consent for spray or sunless tanning for children ages 14 to 17. Assemblywoman Caroline Casagrande said that didn’t make sense, and she abstained from voting on the measure.
“I think it is fairly senseless to require parental consent for something we know not to be dangerous,” said Casagrande, a Republican.
Thirty-three states regulate the use of tanning facilities by minors, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Another 23 states have seen legislation prohibiting tanning introduced since 2011. California and Vermont are the only states that have outright bans against tanning for children under age 18.
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