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New bill would ban Michigan minors from tanning | News

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New bill would ban Michigan minors from tanning

GRAND RAPIDS (WZZM) - Tanning salons are busy this week as people of all ages are preparing for spring break, by getting a base tan.

But a new bill in the state legislature would restrict anyone under 18 from using tanning salons in Michigan. The bill would amend the current law requiring anyone under the age of 18 to have parental consent. Currently 30 other states have restrictions for minors, but so far, only California and Vermont have completely banned minors from tanning salons.

The proposal in Michigan is putting tanning salon owners and skin specialists at odds.

All the beds are full this time of year at Island Rays Tanning and Travel in Greenville; 25 percent of users are under age 18.

"Most of the parents are trying to prevent their kids from being sunburned," said Owner Chris Pelfrey. "It's more of a preventive thing for kids going on spring break soon."

Pelfrey wants the law to stay the way it is.

"It's really taking the law out of parents' hands," he says. 

But skin specialist Jayme Heim says the Michigan bill needs to become law as soon as possible.

"When you're dealing with children at a younger age, their skin isn't completely thickened," she explains. 

As far as health goes, Heim agrees that certain light is good for treating problems like Psoriasis and Eczema. She says the danger is when people get too much exposure.

"When you have an ultraviolet light that goes deep within the dermis of the skin, it can change the characteristics of the cells within the skin. What that is called is cancer," she says.

She says she's starting to see cancer appear earlier on, with doctors diagnosing melanoma in people as young as 25 years old.

To Pelfrey, that is still a worst case scenario.  He believes customers should still be allowed to take the risk as they prepare to head south for spring break. At least one visitor to downtown Grand Rapids agrees with his viewpoint.

"It's your body, it's your choice," says Mason Chapman. "If you feel like you need to go to the tanning booth before you're 18, I feel like that should be totally up to you, and not a decision made by the government."

"It's not [taking it] too far," says Susan Wolters. "Tanning is so bad for you, it's so bad for your skin. I wish I would've known that at a younger age."

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