New Tanning Bill to Rekindle Colorful Debate at Idaho Statehouse

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One year after a protracted—and often contentious—debate in the Idaho Legislature about tanning, a 2013 version of a bill that would limit teens from using tanning beds has surfaced again at the Idaho Statehouse.

In March 2012, a robust debate erupted over House Bill 486aa, which proposed barring Idaho minors from using tanning beds.

"The purpose of this legislation is to prevent future skin cancers. Scientific evidence demonstrates a 75 percent increase in the risk of melanoma in those who have been exposed to UV radiation from indoor tanning," said Dr. Ronald Moy, president of the American Academy of Dermatology.

Wayne Hoffman, executive director of the Idaho Freedom Foundation, testified against the proposal and fired off emails to legislators, claiming that a number of Idaho physicians regularly prescribed tanning beds for patients suffering from depression or psoriasis.

But Lewiston Democratic Rep. John Rusche, who serves as House minority leader and is also a physician, said doctors usually prescribed light boxes, not tanning beds, for depression.

"And they're almost never prescribed to children. But even if they were, this bill would allow them with a prescription," said Rusche. "I don't know what to say. There are lots of ways to kill a bill. I guess this is another one."

Indeed, the 2012 measure died.

But now lobbyists for the Idaho Medical Association are back at the statehouse, proposing a new bill that would require anyone under the age of 15 to get medical clearance, and those between 16 and 18 to get parental consent, before bronzing themselves at a commercial tanning parlor.

The new bill is expected to be debated in the next several days.

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