Prom season is coming up and many teens may want to head to a tanning salon to get that sun-kissed look. But the American Cancer Society is pushing a state wide bill that would stop them from going into a booth. Our Megan Eaton has more.
ALBANY, N.Y. -- Kim Conor started using tanning beds in her 50s, hoping to give herself a base before visiting relatives in sunnier climates. But she ended up with more than a darker complexion.
"In 2010, I noticed a small black dot on my knee the size of a pen tip. It was unusually black. And I was diagnosed with melanoma at that time," Conor said.
Conor is now part of one of New York's fastest growing groups: Skin cancer survivors.
The American Cancer Society says the disease has seen over a 70 percent increase in the past decade. They believe a large part of that is due to tanning bed usage.
“This use of tanning booths at an early age, which, for some people, turns into a chronic and continuing use of tanning booths, which results in great increases in the exposure to ultraviolet radiation and therefore, is leading to this increase in melanoma,” said Russ Sciandra or the American Cancer Society.
The cancer society has been pushing the legislature to ban the tan for kids under 18.
Currently, teens 14 to 18 need a note from their parent.
"I have a 13-year-old daughter and we've talked about this many times. She’s already talked about her friends that are talking about using tanning booths. Hopefully this legislation will help prevent that,” Dr. Charles Weissman said.
But not everyone believes tanning beds are bad news. John Overstreet of the Indoor Tanning Association says legislation like this is doesn't help health, it hurts business.
"When it comes to sun tanning, and I’m a parent, the government doesn’t need to be telling parents to how raise their children. New York and the federal government heavily regulate already and to me it's a slippery slope," Overstreet said.
Overstreet also says the science to prove a direct link between skin cancer and tanning beds isn't there and men are twice as likely to die from melanoma, but 80 percent of tanning salon users are women.
Excessive tanning has made national headlines recently as New Jersey native Patricia Krentcil is accused of allowing her six-year-old use a tanning bed. But experts say even limited exposure can have negative effects.
Conor said, "I truly wish I knew how dangerous tanning beds are and maybe I would not be living my 50s without so much fear."
For the second year in a row, the State Assembly passed legislation banning tanning for kids under 18. The bill is set to head to the Senate floor within the next month.