Advocates are pressing for New Jersey to expand the state's tanning salon ban to all minors after a mother was accused of taking her child into a tanning room.
Members of the American Cancer Society and other groups were at the Statehouse on Monday to push legislation that would make tanning salons illegal for children under age 18. A 2006 law bans tanning beds for children under age14, and requires written parental consent for those 14 to 17.
A Nutley woman last week was accused of taking her 5-year-old daughter into a tanning booth, allegedly resulting in burns to the child's skin. The woman has pleaded not guilty to child endangerment.
Dr. Robert Paull of the Center of Dermatology and Laser Skin Surgery said it's clear the mother, Patricia Krentcil, is a tanning addict. He said it's unreasonable to rely on a person with a history of tanning abuse to guide children to make good choices for their skin health, and the state should step in to protect children.
Alyson Dougherty, a 27-year-old melanoma survivor who spoke at the event, broke into tears when describing her battle with cancer. She started tanning when she was 16, and was diagnosed with skin cancer at age 21.
"It was a result of poor choices, choices I shouldn't have been allowed to make," Dougherty said.
The incidence of melanoma in the Garden State has increased by 43 percent during the last 10 years, according to the American Cancer Society. Advocates believe indoor tanning has played a major role in that increase.
State Health and Senior Services Committee chairman Assemblyman Herb Conaway hopes to bring the measure up for a vote soon. California and Vermont have approved similar laws.
"This bill is one which does press itself upon us," Conaway said. "I think it is timely. The case of this unfortunate woman and young child will certainly raise attention to this issue among my colleagues."