By a slim margin, the Iowa Senate has passed a bill that would ban minors from using commercial tanning beds. Senator Bill Dotzler, a Democrat from Waterloo, said using a tanning bed is a “dangerous practice” that can be “just as dangerous as smoking.”
“As senators, we vote on a lot of bills, but I don’t think there are that many bills that we have an opportunity to make a difference in people’s lives like this one is,” Dotzler said.
Senator Mark Chelgren, a Republican from Ottumwa, voted against the bill.
“I believe this is something parents should have some say in,” Chelgren said. “Their opinion on what their kids can do means at least as much as our opinion in this room.”
Chelgren said he’s fair-skinned, but didn’t burn as a kid growing up on the west coast because he got what he calls a “base tan.”
“It is not a case of ‘base tanning’ causing the problem, day-to-day tanning causing the problems. ” Chelgren said. “The case and the problem is the burning. It is the excessive use of ultraviolent light whether it be in the sunshine or whether it be in a tanning bed facility that causes the damage to the skin.”
Dotzler said doctors tell him people who have used a tanning bed before the age of 35 have increased their chances of being diagnosed with melanoma by 75 percent.
“We have an opportunity here, ladies and gentlemen of the senate, to maybe stop a few cases — not all of ’em — but we can stop a few cases by the passage of this legislation and maybe save some lives in the state of Iowa,” Dotzler said.
The bill passed on a narrow, 26-23 vote. A similar bill has cleared a House committee and is eligible for debate in the full House.