BOSTON >> Both branches of the state Legislature have now signed off on a bill that would ban minors under the age of 18 from using or operating tanning booths.
The House passed the bill (S. 1994) on a 146-8 vote on Wednesday. In September, the bill cleared the Senate. Sponsor Sen. James Timilty has long been unable to help shepherd the bill through the House, so the bill's passage marked a breakthrough.
Under current state law, children under the age of 14 can only use an indoor tanning device if accompanied by an adult and teenagers between the ages of 14 and 17 need to provide parental consent, Rep. Kate Hogan said during discussion of the bill.
"By preventing teenagers from using tanning devices, we can reduce skin cancer rates and save lives as well as lower health care costs," Hogan said.
According to the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, indoor tanning use by people under the age of 35 increases the risk of the skin cancer melanoma by 59 percent. An estimated 1,310 people in Massachusetts will be diagnosed with melanoma this year, with young people more at risk to damage from UV radiation because of their developing skin cells, the network said.
"The research is clear — tanning devices cause cancer. By supporting this bill to protect our kids from the UV radiation emitted by these devices, Massachusetts lawmakers are working to prevent future skin cancer diagnoses and save lives," Marc Hymovitz, the Massachusetts director of government relations for ACS CAN, said in a statement.
Hymovitz called the bill's passage "a major step in protecting Massachusetts youth" and urged Gov. Charlie Baker to sign it once it reaches his desk.
Rep. Marjorie Decker, a supporter of the bill, said she had heard some concern that the bill was "stepping over a line" into over-regulation.
"This is a body that really walks that line carefully and thoughtfully," she said, describing the bill as good public policy that would protect people from harm.