Proposed Missouri law would set age minimum for tanning beds

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – You have to be 18 to buy a tattoo and cigarettes, but there’s no age restrictions on using a tanning bed in Missouri. There’s now a push in Jefferson City to stop kids from using tanning beds.

State Representative Nick Schroer of the 107th District has proposed a bill that would classify UV tanning in the same way that cigarettes and alcohol are classified.

“We know indoor UV tanning causes cancer, we know it leads to cancer, and increases risk of cancer,” Schroer said. “However, we have not regulated until recently.”

At present, you have to be 17 with parental consent to tan. Dr. Lynn Cornelius, chief of dermatology at Washington University, said both parents and kids need to know how serious the UV rays in beds are compared to the actual sun.

“You can get 10 to 15 times the ultra violet exposure in these beds for the same amount of time spent that you would get outdoor from the sun,” she said.

Carola Gloyd, a Stage 3 melanoma cancer survivor, was given a 50-50 chance of survival. As a teen, Gloyd said she never thought tanning would hurt her.

“I did tan when I was 18 and throughout college, like all the girls,” she said. “It was popular.”

Melanoma cases in Missouri have doubled in the last 10 years. The rate of Missouri high school seniors who say they tan is 30 percent, twice the national average.

“We know tanning beds are a known carcinogen, classified by the FDA and World Health Organization,” Gloyd said.

Dr. Cornelius said people under the age of 35 who use tanning beds have a 59 percent higher risk of developing melanoma.