Chicago aldermen want to ban teens from tanning salons
Chicago City Hall (Tribune illustration)
The testimony, along with reports of the links between skin cancer and tanning equipment presented by doctors, put the ban on the fast track for approval at next week’s City Council meeting.
“It’s frustrating to me that the bill in Springfield is not moving anywhere,” said sponsoring Ald. Debra Silverstein, 50th, of a similar statewide effort. “I think that as a mother it is so important that we take care of our children. . . . We do regulate cigarettes that causes cancer. I think this causes cancer as well.”
Under the measure, a tanning facility that allowed someone under 18 to use tanning equipment could be hit with a fine of between $100 and $250. The ban would have to be enforced by the city Public Health Department.
The council committee endorsement came after testimony from Donna Moncivaiz, 50, and Katrina Polansky, 24, both of whom said they have been treated for malignant melanomas in recent years.
“I am a stage three malignant melanoma patient,” Moncivaiz said. “My (two) daughters and I all used tanning beds and I never really thought a thing of it until I was diagnosed last summer.”
Moncivaiz went on to say that she gave her now 24-year-old daughter permission to use tanning beds when she was “15 or 16. . . . . I thought it was safe, and clearly it wasn’t.”
The daughter recently was diagnosed with early stage melanoma, she said. “She will have to see a dermatologist every three months for the rest of her life, just like I do,” she added. “The hardest thing is knowing that I gave her permission, that something I said she could do harmed my child.”
Polansky, meanwhile, said she was diagnosed four years ago at age 20 with melanoma to her face, after starting to use tanning beds at age 15 with the permission of her mother, who is a nurse.
“After the surgery, I am constantly asked all the time what happened to your face,” she said. “the cause of melanoma is completely from the use of indoor tanning. The beds that I would go in, most of them had extra exposure face lights, so it got your face extra tan.”
Earlier in the hearing, Dr. June Robinson, a research professor of dermatology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, said people who use tanning beds before they are 20 years old or have 10 tanning bed sessions in their lifetime double the risk of developing melanoma, one of the most deadly forms of skin cancer. Many young woman schedule 10 tanning sessions a month, she added.
No one from tanning businesses spoke at the hearing, and Washington, D.C.-based Indoor Tanning Association Executive Director John Overstreet said he was not aware of the Chicago initiative, although many of his members are in Chicago.
“The Indoor Tanning Association believes that the decision regarding whether or not a teen is allowed to suntan is a decision for parents, not government,” he said. Illinois law already bans people under age 14 from tanning salons, and salons must get in-person parental permission for anyone between 14 and 17 to use their equipment, he said.