NJ Senate panel OKs relaxed ban on teen tanning

June 18, 2012 3:57:22 PM PDT
A New Jersey Senate panel approved legislation Monday that relaxes a proposed ban on the use of indoor tanning salons by teenagers that the Assembly approved last month.

The Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee voted 7-3 for the bill, an amended version of the ban on indoor tanning the Assembly approved for anyone under 18.

The committee-endorsed measure would ban indoor tanning by anyone under 16, while 16- and 17-year-olds could tan as long as a parent is present for any purchase of tanning sessions. In addition, it would prohibit child customers from tanning consecutive days, increase the fines on salons that violate restrictions on tanning services for children, and allow suspension of their licenses for repeat violations. The Department of Health would have to issue a report on teen tanning in two years, under the measure.

The state now bars anyone under 14 from using tanning beds. Written parental consent is needed for those 14 to 17.

Assemblywoman Holly Schepisi, a skin cancer survivor, said the amendment doesn't go far enough. And Assemblyman Ralph Caputo, one of the measure's primary sponsors, told lawmakers the changes "gut" the bill.

"The only people that are benefiting from amending this bill are the people that own tanning salons," he said.

But tanning industry advocates praised the amended version as a compromise.

James Oliver, who owns 19 Beach Bum salons, argued that the Assembly-approved ban would lead to more outdoor teen tanning, which he said is more dangerous than in a salon. And Blanche Ryder, who owns a salon in East Hanover, said that while a small amount of her business comes from teens, a ban would still threaten her business and others without increasing safety.

"An outright ban would simply be a solution in search of a problem," she said.

Sens. Barbara Buono and Ronald Rice, who preferred the tougher version, called for the amendment to be voted on separately from the bill. But committee Chairman Sen. Joseph Vitale denied the request, citing past practice and advice from legal staff that amendments can't be voted on separately from bills.

Buono and Rice, both Democrats, and Sen. Diane Allen, a Republican, then voted against the amended bill. Others expressed reservations about the changes, but voted to move it forward to the full Senate for consideration.