Gov. Pat Quinn signed a bill Thursday that bans Illinois teens from using tanning beds.
The law, which goes into effect on Jan. 1, 2014, bans anyone under the age of 18 from using equipment that emits ultraviolet radiation, including sun lamps and tanning booths. They also will not be able to use tanning beds that emit certain electromagnetic radiation wavelengths. The law doesn't apply to devices used in private residences, phototherapy devices used by physicians or spray tans.
"I am signing these new laws today so that our youth and their families can be spared the consequences of very serious and preventable health problems that are caused by dangerous habits formed at a young age," Quinn said in a news release.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the World Health Organization say natural and artificial ultraviolet radiation are cancer-causing substances, and in May the U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued a proposed order for stricter regulations on indoor tanning devices. The American Academy of Dermatology says minors shouldn't use indoor tanning equipment because overexposure to ultraviolet radiation can lead to skin cancer.
Some tanning industry officials say the focus of government intervention should be on teaching moderation and that it's unfair to blame salons for overexposure that might lead to cancer, warning that a teen tanning ban would damage business.
Nick Patel, CEO of Lincolnshire-based L.A. Tan, which has about 65 salons in Illinois, said he has closed a number of locations over the last 18 months and that the new legislation, if Quinn signs it, could mean more lost jobs. Patel said his employees are trained to coach customers to tan wisely.
"People just need to be educated more than anything else," he says.
The Indoor Tanning Association, which represents thousands of salon operators, contests the links between tanning and cancer.
Illinois law already bans tanning by anyone younger than 14 but allows minors between 14 and 17 to tan with parental permission. Salons that violate these rules can be fined $250. Teen tanning is banned altogether in Chicago and Springfield, and sponsors say the new bill would level the playing field for salons across the state.
New Jersey passed a law this year banning anyone younger than 17 from using tanning beds after the well-publicized case involving Patricia Krentcil, who became known as the "Tan Mom." Krentcil allegedly took her 5-year-old daughter into a tanning booth but was not charged with a crime.
Quinn also signed Senate Bill 1756 Thursday, which bans anyone under the age of 18 from using electronic cigarettes and other alternative nicotine products.