Monday, April 29, 2013

Legislation and Me

I had the opportunity to testify before a State Senate committee hearing again this week. The bill being proposed is asking to make a law requiring parental consent for anyone under 18. That consent is to be renewed every 6 months. While I think it is unnecessary, I am not completely opposed to the bill. Currently professional salons require consent for anyone under 18 voluntarily, so really the only major change would be that it is required by law and the frequency of the consent renewal.

I got word from my salon that there was talk that there would be an amendment proposed to completely ban anyone under 18 from tanning. I made sure I would be there to voice my concerns about how a ban would be a mistake. Sure enough, one of the Senators said she would be introducing an amendment to ban anyone under the age of 18 from tanning through a professional salon, so I am glad I went.  Well, of course, guess who is the FIRST person called up to testify. While I am not terribly comfortable in this kind of setting, I didn’t have a chance to think about it much since I was the first one to go. I guess that may have worked to my advantage.

The tanning industry had a few people that testified after me with some very interesting data. Some of which I have learned while doing my own research, but I certainly learned some new things as well. For instance, Melanoma is more common in someone that works indoors than someone with a job spent outdoors. Seems to me that means that UV exposure ISN’T the black and white cause of melanoma that the medical industry would like us to believe. Clearly there are other factors that contribute. Also, there have been surveys done that show that 3 out of 4 teens that currently tan, with their parent’s permission, would seek out home units or tan aggressively outdoors if there were a ban preventing them to go to a salon. Banning teens from the one source that has extensive safety measures in place, will end up increasing these teen’s health risks. That isn’t the result these lawmakers want, yet many of them don’t want to admit that. They are told that all of the increased cancer risks come exclusively from tanning in professional salons. That isn’t true, home units are much more dangerous and increase a person’s risk by 40 percent because there are no limits to how often or how long a person tans, and there is no skin type assessment to set the limits.

There were Dermatologists testifying again that the bill doesn’t go far enough and were pushing for the full ban. The Dermatologists said things that were completely false. Not just skewed, but flat out lies. One dermatologist said that “no UV is safe” “47% of tanners are addicted” and that “salons let clients tan daily” None of those statements are true. Another doctor claimed that sunbeds are 10-15 times more intense than the summer sun at noon. That is not true as I have written about before; sunbeds are only 2-3 times more intense than the sun and you spend a fraction of the time in a sunbed to avoid overexposure.      I couldn’t take notes fast enough to get all of the inaccurate statements and only caught one of their names. Dr. Hunter H Sams, a dermatologist said, “Adequate amounts of Vitamin D can be derived easily from our diet.” As I have written in prior blogs, it is impossible to get sufficient amounts of Vitamin D through diet alone. UV exposure is the most effective and efficient way to get Vitamin D.

The bill for parental consent passed, but I am very happy to report that the Senate committee did not approve the amendment to ban anyone under 18 from tanning in a professional salon. I feel like my voice was heard. One of the Senators made it clear to me that he agreed that a parent should be the one to make this decision. Another Senator asked many of the others testifying about how the science isn’t clear and he seemed to feel they shouldn’t legislate on something that had this many variables. He understood that salons have strict safety rules they abide by to keep clients from burning.

All in all, it has been a very interesting experience. I have never been involved in a process like this and I have learned a great deal. It has also been an eye opening experience as to what lengths the opposition will go to, in order to get their way, even if the facts don’t support their claims. It is amazing to me that there is so much blame placed on professional salons when they have not contributed to the statistics used against them.

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