By Jess Seabolt
One Central Indiana tanning salon projects a loss of at least 100 customers because of a new state law that restricts commercial tanning to only those 16 years and older.
Senate Bill 50, authored by Sen. Patricia Miller, R-Indianapolis, becomes law July 1. It also requires anyone who is 16 or 17 years old to provide parental permission before being allowed to tan at professional facilities.
Miller said the goal is to protect teens. She said those under 30 years old are 75 percent more likely to develop melanoma than those who are older.
But Shane Griggs, the owner of EarthTone Tanning in Indianapolis, said young people who come to his salon are less likely to burn, in part because they often have a parent with them. And he said he defers to the parents' decisions about how long a young teen can tan. "I don't want anyone to get skin cancer," he said.
He knows the law will impact his business.
"We have probably 100 kids who are under 16," Greggs said. And he said the law will hurt salons that are near high schools the most - and his salon is about two miles from Franklin Central High School and Lutheran High School.
Griggs said that tanning gets "a lot of hype" and that with a loss of revenue he and his salon would have to "focus on other areas" and "get back to the basics," which would include keeping a clean salon and being kind to customers.
Miller said she had no qualms about prohibiting young teens from tanning, even though it's taking away parents' rights to make decisions for their children. The old law allowed parents to give their kids permission to tan. But Miller said young people are already told they can't drink or buy alcohol or smoke and use tobacco. And to Miller, tanning is just as dangerous as alcohol and tobacco.
Miller said she hopes that the bill will serve more as a learning tool for young people and encourage them to research and educate themselves better about the dangers of tanning beds. "I'm hoping that they will learn the dangers," she said, "and choose not to tan."
Jess Seabolt is a reporter for TheStatehouseFile.com, a news website powered by Franklin College journalism students and faculty.