Posted: April 03, 2013 | Front Page, News Items, Senator Craven, Senator Gratwick, Senator Haskell

Teen tanning in Maine exceeds national average despite known increased risk of cancer


AUGUSTA—Earlier today, the Senate endorsed a measure protecting youth from skin cancer with a vote of 19-16.


The bill, sponsored by Doctor and Senator Geoff Gratwick, D-Bangor, prohibits children under age 18 from using tanning facilities.


“It is medically proven that when young people tan, they are more likely to be afflicted with an extremely difficult to treat and often deadly form of skin cancer,” said Senator Gratwick. “Prevention is the best cure. It is our responsibility as parents and lawmakers to do everything we can to prevent cancer in our children.”


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.


“This is a public health issue and a public health hazard,” said Senator Margaret Craven, D-Lewiston, citing Maine’s higher than average cancer rate. “Cancer impacts all of us, and it is our responsibility to do everything we can to prevent it.”


Doctors, cancer patients, and health advocates, including the Maine Medical Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the American Cancer Society, testified in support of the measure before the Health and Humans Services Committee.


“When I was a child, I would take a note from my aunt and uncle down to the general store to buy them cigarettes,” said Senator Anne Haskell, D-Portland. “Not all parents are paying as much attention as mine were, which is why we as lawmakers banned children from smoking. 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 previously voted in favor of the bill, LD 272, “An Act to Reduce Youth Cancer Risk,” in an 82-63 vote. The measure will now go to the Governor’s desk.