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State Rep. Equates Teen Tanning To Cigarette Smoking In New Bill

Ryan Poppe | Texas Public Radio

Rep. John Zerwas, R-Simonton, who is himself a doctor, authored the bill and told the House Committee on Public Health that a tanning ban for minors is similar to other state restrictions already in place.

"House Bill 598 requires that a person younger than 18 years old not be allowed to use a tanning device through a tanning facilitator, similar restriction we see on tobacco products. This bill connects the minimum age for use of this carcinogenic device with the minimum age for other types of carcinogenic products and as I already mentioned, tobacco," Zerwas said.

Not everyone in the medical community agrees with Zerwas’ assessment of tanning. Dr. David Hoel testified against the bill on behalf of the Palm Beach Tanning Company and said the use of ultraviolet light can actually help cure cancer.

"If you are properly exposed to UV there are benefits to the UV exposure. For example, there have been studies for both using sunlight and artificial UV exposure for particular cancers," Hoel said.

He said UV light has been used to help treat breast cancer and in some cases lymphoma.  

Zerwas said that he discounts any type of testimony that is paid for by the tanning companies. Last session the legislature passed a similar bill, restricting anyone under the age of 16 from tanning without parental consent.

For now the bill was left pending in committee.