LANSING (WWJ/AP) – Michigan doctors and cancer survivors are calling on the Legislature to prohibit minors from using tanning salons.

Democratic-sponsored legislation announced Thursday would make it a misdemeanor for a salon owner to allow patrons under age 18 to tan.

The Michigan Dermatological Society says indoor tanning has been linked with an increased risk of skin cancer, especially for girls who start tanning at a young age.

Joe Levy, who heads the Jackson-based International Smart Tan Network, told WWJ’s Violet Ikonomova that encouraging people to avoid UV rays entirely is a public health mistake.

“Melanoma is more common in people who work indoors, and it’s more common in parts of the body that don’t get regular exposure to sunlight,” Levy said. “What we need to be focusing on is sunburn prevention — not just blanket sun avoidance.”

West Bloomfield Dermatologist Kay Watnick disagrees. She says almost all sun exposure is bad and the increase in skin cancer can be traced to when tanning beds became popular, and the people who frequent them.

“Seventy-percent of tanning bed use is in Caucasian females between the ages of 15 and 29,” Watnick said.

Current state law requires indoor tanners to sign a statement saying they understand the health risks. Minors need their parents’ to sign the paper, too.

The package of bills is sponsored by Democratic Rep. Jim Townsend of Royal Oak and must clear the GOP-controlled Legislature. He also proposes making tanning salons register with the state and pay a $75 annual license fee.

(TM and © Copyright 2013 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2013 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)


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