LEPAGE PUTS POLITICS BEFORE PUBLIC HEALTH

Posted: April 04, 2013 | Senator Gratwick, Senator Haskell

Governor ignores medical science with his veto of youth cancer prevention bill

AUGUSTA–Senate Democrats expressed disappointment following the Governor LePage’s veto of a bill to protect youth from skin cancer.

“The Governor is not putting kids first,” said Doctor and Senator Geoff Gratwick (D-Bangor), the sponsor of the bill. “It is medically proven that teens who use tanning beds increase their risk of cancer by 75 percent. This surely is a public health issue. It is definitely a safety issue. And it’s one that we should all stand behind. I am disappointed that the governor has put politics before public health.”

The measure received bipartisan approval yesterday by the Senate and seeks to prevent children under the  age of 18 from using tanning beds.

According to medical studies, even minimal exposure to UV radiation from tanning beds before the age of 25 can increase the risk of developing melanoma, the most dangerous type of skin cancer, by 75 percent. Melanoma is the most common form of cancer for young adults ages 25 to 29, with one American dying every hour from this disease.

“There are times when science and medicine should supersede politics,” said Senator Gratwick. “This is one of those times.”

The Governor claimed the measure told “Maine parents that Augusta knows better.” Yet as Senator Anne Haskell (D-Portland) explained during the floor debate of the bill, lawmakers have previously protected children from public health risks, like tobacco.

“When I was a child, I would take a note from my aunt and uncle down to the general store to buy them cigarettes. Not all parents are paying as much attention as mine were, which is why we as lawmakers banned children from smoking,” said Senator Haskell. “These are public health issues, not partisan issues, which is why Republican Governor Chris Christie of New Jersey signed a similar bill into law earlier this week.”

The House and Senate need a two-thirds vote to override the governor’s veto, 24 votes in the Senate and 101 in the House. The Senate will likely take up the veto override early next week.

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