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Bill to restrict teen tanning goes to House

The Massachusetts Senate passed a bill late Tuesday night to restrict teens in the state from using indoor tanning salons — a day ahead of Rhode Island, which on Wednesday cleared a bill through its legislature requiring all teens under age 18 to get parental consent or a doctor’s note.

Going a step further, the Massachusetts bill bans anyone under age 16 from using a tanning device without a written order from a doctor and requires those who are 16 or 17 to get written consent from their parents.

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The consent form will include warnings about skin cancer risks associated with indoor tanning and how those risks are even greater in children.

The bill’s fate now rests with the House, which has rejected the legislation each time it has passed the Senate since it was first introduced five years ago.

“We think we’ve taken care of the political difficulties and think we have enough votes in the House to pass it,” said Deb Girard, executive director of the Melanoma Foundation of New England, a nonprofit organization that has helped draft indoor tanning legislation in several New England states.

Rhode Island’s law, which would require parental consent only for every other tanning session, will go into effect on Jan. 1 if signed by the governor.

That bill is a compromise from the original legislation, which would have banned all tanning in those under 18, according to Girard.

Vermont recently outlawed indoor tanning for all minors, a law that will go into effect in July. It’s the second state after California to pass such restrictions.

The Indoor Tanning Association, which represents tanning salon owners, said in a recent statement that it “strongly supports parental consent which is already the law in New Jersey and other states.” However, it said that it opposes an all-out ban on teens using tanning salons, a measure endorsed by the American Academy of Pediatrics and other medical organizations.

Deborah Kotz can be reached at dkotz@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @debkotz2.
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