Ill. House bill attempts to ban teen tanning

Danny Cozzi

DeKALB | The Illinois House of Representatives is debating whether to ban persons under 18 from using tanning salons.

The bill states that minors are banned “regardless of whether such a person has the permission of a parent or guardian to use the facility.”

Rob Molina, co-owner of L.A. Tan, 1127 W. Lincoln Highway, said he opposed the bill. He said a parent’s consent should be more than adequate permission for a young teenager to utilize tanning salons’ services.

“Our government is getting more and more involved in American people’s day-to-day business,” Molina said, adding that an online petition to oppose the bill was available at latan.com.

He said tanning was no more different than natural sunlight.

“If you’re going to get melanoma, you can get it just as easily as being outdoors in the sun in the summer time,” Molina said. “Indoor is a little more intense because the UV rays are closer to you, but it’s a good source of vitamin D.”

There are also benefits to tanning, Molina said, and those are often not mentioned.

“You come in, you get tan, you feel good and you walk out of here and you’re happy,” he said. “I think there’s a lot of positive things for indoor tanning. We always hear about the negatives, but we never hear about the positives.”

Dr. Peter Liber of Wheaton Pediatrics disagreed, saying that excessive exposure to the sun can seriously damage skin due to the radiation from ultraviolet rays.

“Studies have shown that it can result in intensity 10 or more times of the midday sun, provides lots of radiation in a short period of time,” Liber said.

Liber said typically people will head to a tanning salon to get a “pre-vacation tan” to improve their looks before going on a trip.

And while exposure to the sun is healthy, Liber said tanning overcompensates for it.

“Most experts believe that your body should be able to make as much vitamin D as it needs by incidental exposure to the sun, not making a special effort to sit there,” Liber said.

Freshman business major Danielle Mulcahey said she enjoys tanning about twice a week.

Mulcahey said she is aware of the risks when it comes to tanning and tries to go in moderation. She also said she tans outside during the summer where there’s less of a concentration of sun’s rays, as opposed to the tanning salons. Liber maintains that it’s a better choice to avoid excessive exposure to the sun, regardless of the popularity of the trend.

“Pale is good,” Liber said. “Adapt a better attitude. That’s healthy.”