N.J. lawmakers urged to ban minors from tanning salons

Advocates are urging New Jersey lawmakers to enact a measure banning anyone under 18 from using indoor tanning salons. The state Senate passed the bill in the last legislative session, but the Assembly did not act on it.

Assemblyman Herb Conaway, who is also a physician, says publicity about the Nutley woman accused of taking her 5-year-old daughter into a tanning booth may spur lawmakers to approve the ban this year.

“Unfortunately, this is how change comes,” said Conaway, D-Camden. “You see something which appears to be tragic, which seems to be so wrong. It raises its profile in the minds of people, everybody, including in the minds of decision makers.”

Currently, children between 14 and 17 can use tanning salons if they have parental approval.

On Monday, 27-year-old Aly Dougherty told lawmakers she began using tanning beds when she was 16. She ended up with melanoma.

“I didn’t believe it could happen to me but it did, and it was really the result of poor choices,” said an emotional Dougherty. “Choices that I really should not have been given the opportunity to make.”

Dougherty, now cancer-free, is urging young people to be aware of the dangers of indoor tanning. She says short-term vanity is not more important than long-term health.

The American Cancer Society says increased used of tanning beds by teens has contributed to a 43 percent increase in melanoma cases in New Jersey over the past decade.

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