AUGUSTA — Maine would join 17 states that ban the use of tanning beds for minors under a bill the state Senate sent to the governor’s desk Wednesday.

Democratic Gov. Janet Mills has said she supports the proposed legislation and is likely to sign it into law. The Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention said the bill would help reduce the risk of skin cancer in children and teenagers.

The effort has failed in years past, but has gained support under the newly Democratic Legislature. Maine’s former Republican governor vetoed a similar bill in 2013 and called it “government run amok.”

At least 17 states – including Vermont, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Massachusetts – and the District of Columbia ban the use of tanning beds for minors under 18, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration recommends that those under 18 should not use a tanning bed or lamp. The Maine CDC says skin cancer rates are rising in the state and nationally.

Supporters say teenagers put themselves at risk while tanning for proms or other events.

Such advocates, including the American Cancer Society’s lobbying group, Cancer Action Network, point to research indicating overexposure to ultraviolet light happens more commonly in teens and increases the chance of skin cancer later on. The American Academy of Dermatology says over half of indoor tanners started tanning before age 21, while one-third started before age 18.

Critics, including several Republican senators, say the bill will harm the nearly 200 tanning businesses in Maine. A Republican effort to allow minors to use a tanning device with a physician’s prescription failed Tuesday.

Maine already prohibits the use of tanning beds by individuals under the age of 14. Minors who are 14 or 15 years old must have signed permission from a parent or legal guardian, who must be physically present during tanning.

Minors who are 16 or 17 years old also need such a signed consent form, but a parent or legal guardian isn’t required to be physically present.


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