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Tan Ban Comes With 'Prom Carve-Out'

Proposals to block minors from using tanning beds in Pennsylvania has been kicked around the Capitol for at least three years.

The key to final passage? Don’t mess with prom.

The state Legislature has passed a measure to ban anyone 16 years old and younger from tanning salons. 17-year-olds would be good to go with a parent’s permission.

Sponsoring Rep. Frank Farry (R-Bucks) calls it the “prom carve-out,” and he said it was necessary to get political support for the bill.

“You know, a complete ban for under 18, based on talking to previous sponsors and advocates for it, the votes weren’t going to be there for it,” said Farry.

The resulting proposal is expected to get the governor’s signature without keeping high school seniors from bronzing their shoulders before prom. Additionally, it will require adults using tanning parlors to sign a consent form warning them of the dangers of tanning beds.  

The Food and Drug Administration has said tanning rays are carcinogenic, and Pennsylvania dermatologists say tanning parlor rays are more harmful than natural sunlight.

Other changes, which include requiring tanning salons to pay fees based on their number of beds, would take effect two months after the bill is signed into law. Inspections of tanning salons wouldn’t start until two years after the bill’s signature.

“We are one of few states that does not regulate this,” Farry said. “And I think east of the Mississippi, we are one of the last ones to get aboard the train.”

Alabama and West Virginia were the only other holdouts. In the past two years, lawmakers in each state passed restrictions on tanning salons, with their own special prom carve-outs. Alabama’s tanning bed ban is for anyone younger than 15 years old, while 15- to 17 year-olds need parental consent or accompaniment.  West Virginia passed a tanning ban for anyone younger than 14, while 14- to 18-year-olds need parental permission.

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