Kayla Collier was a beauty pageant contestant when she first started visiting tanning salons at the age of 15. She was concerned the bright lights on stage would make her look ghostly and a nice tan was what many contestants at Miss Florida Teen USA displayed.
But her mother noticed a scab on her back, which turned out to be skin cancer.
Now Miss Florida Teen USA, Collier, 18, is joining state lawmakers in speaking out in support of a proposal to ban tanning bed use for people under the age of 16 in Florida. She spoke to the legislature which is in session in Tallahassee.
“I know teenagers that go every day, every week, twice a day sometimes to tanning beds,” she said. “I do believe that it did play a part in my skin cancer.”
If the legislation passes in Florida, it would become the latest among 17 states including Hawaii considering a ban on indoor tanning by young teens. Her mother, Claire Collier, fully supports Kayla’s campaign.
“Do you really realize that your daughter or son – after just a few times in the tanning bed – could have melanoma? I didn’t” she says.
Under SB 546, teens16 and 17 must provide written parental consent witnessed by a tanning operator before using any one of 7,100 tanning beds in Florida.
Needless to say, shop owners in the state fear an impact on their business and want the state legislature to mind its own business.
“God made us to naturally tan. If you were on an island, you would tan to protect yourself from the sun’s harmful rays,” says Brandi Botts of Tan Lines Studio in Cape Coral to First Coast News.
But lawmakers cite studies that show too much tanning, especially in young people can harm the skin and lead to skin cancer.
Naturally, people don’t like government intrusion in their lives. But experts are beginning to agree that the UV exposure from tanning beds is linked to an increase in the risk of melanoma by 75 percent – according to the Skin Cancer Foundation. The biggest risk is for those who first use a tanning bed before the age of 35.
The World Health Organization doesn’t believe tanning beds are safe for young people and promotes banning their use. The American Academy of Dermatology also believes their use should be restricted to anyone under the age of 18.
Florida could join at least 29 states that have some sort of restriction on tanning salon use by minors, whether it restricts the age to 14 and above, or bans the use of tanning beds outright, as Texas and Vermont do for anyone under the age of 18.
One girl puts it best in a blog- she knows from the location of the skin cancer she got in her 20s, that it could have only come from a tanning bed. #