STATE HOUSE – With final votes in the Senate
today, the General Assembly approved legislation sponsored by Senate Majority
Whip Maryellen Goodwin and Rep. Mia Ackerman to prohibit those under 18 from
using tanning facilities in Rhode Island. The bill will now go to the governor.
“The evidence of the dangers of tanning to
young people is just overwhelming. All tanning is skin damage, and even one
single tanning session drastically increases a young person’s risk for skin
cancer. It’s time to start treating tanning like the public health threat that
it really is. It is irresponsible to allow kids to put their lives at risk so
unnecessarily, and this legislation will take that option off the table.
Besides reducing the opportunities kids have to tan and sending a serious
message about the real danger of tanning, delaying their access to tanning
facilities until adulthood might help curb the next generation’s appetite for
this unhealthy habit throughout their lives,” said Senator Goodwin (D-Dist. 1
“We shouldn’t allow kids to use these tanning
devices for the same reasons we don’t allow them to smoke — it causes cancer,”
said Representative Ackerman (D-Dist.45, Cumberland, Lincoln. “In fact, just
like tobacco smoke, UV rays are classified as a Level 1 carcinogen by the World
Health Organization. We simply shouldn’t be risking the lives of our teenagers
just so they can look good on prom night.”
Since 2013, children under 18 have been banned
from using indoor tanning facilities in Rhode Island unless their parents sign
a written consent that includes information about the cancer risks of tanning.
The legislation (2018-S 2299B, 2018-H 7136) passed by the Senate
today would eliminate the parental consent option, and also removes an
exemption that currently allows minors with a doctor’s prescription to use
The legislation applies only to equipment that
uses ultraviolet lamps or other equipment to induce skin tanning through
irradiation, not spray tanning.
According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, just
one indoor tanning session before the age of 35 increases a person’s risk of
melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, by 75 percent. One study observing
63 women diagnosed with melanoma before age 30 found that 61 of them (97
percent) had used tanning beds.
“As a physician, I have seen firsthand the
devastating effects of a diagnosis of skin cancer, particularly melanoma, in
20- and 30-year-olds,” said Dr. Kaveri Korgavkar in written testimony for the
legislation. “Many people do not know that exposure to indoor tanning is
significantly more dangerous than outdoor tanning. Tanning beds emit
approximately 12 times the UVA radiation of natural sunlight. Women younger
than 30 are six times more likely to develop melanoma if they tan indoors.”