Lawmakers consider tanning bed ban for minors

Hawaii’s keiki could soon be banned from visiting a tanning bed. A bill moving forward at the State Capitol would prevent anyone under 18 from using one.

Supporters of the bill say it’s necessary to make sure kids are protected as much as possible.

“We have to set a standard that it is unsafe for children,” said Sen. Josh Green, who is also a medical doctor. “My perspective is it’s Russian roulette with our children’s skin if we have them going to tanning beds.”

Marc Rapoza, owner of Sunsplash Tanning Salon on Kapahulu Ave., says he doesn’t see a real need for a new state law.

“It’s somewhat unnecessary,” he said. “We have probably five or six tanning salons in the entire state, and we service maybe two dozen under 18 people a year.”

KHON2 spoke to a representative from the American Cancer Society and a local dermatologist to find out more about the increased risk for skin cancer.

“The dangers about tanning beds is it’s really trying to deliver the amount of UV light in a short amount of time, maybe as little as 10 minutes, than you would from exposure to the sun for hours on the beach,” said Cory Chun of American Cancer Society.

“The concern is much of the exposure occurred early in life,” said dermatologist Dr. Carla Nip-Sakamoto. “It’s a cumulative exposure. It may take 20 or 30 years before we start to see the early signs of skin cancer.”

The industry is also regulated. Machines come with warnings and maximum exposure times. There are also federal government guidelines to be followed.

“If they wanted to make a difference, they would almost have to outlaw going to the beach or surfing, or anything where the youths are going to be out in the sun, because that’s where a vast majority of them are going to go,” Rapoza said.

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