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No bronzing, no smoking

(MCT) — Illinois teens soon will no longer be allowed to visit tanning beds for a bronze glow, even if they have their parents' permission, under a measure Gov. Pat Quinn signed into law Thursday.

The law, which takes effect Jan. 1, restricts those younger than 18 from using tanning beds at salons. Previously, those 14 and younger were banned from such tanning beds, while those 14 to 17 could use them with parental permission. Some cities, including Chicago and Springfield, already have policies that ban minors from using tanning beds.

Supporters say the measure protects young people from the risks of skin cancer.

"Our young people have their whole lives ahead of them, and we want them to be well, grow and thrive in Illinois," Quinn said in a statement.

But opponents, including mostly Republican lawmakers and tanning industry officials, say parents should decide whether teens should be allowed to tan. They add that the measure could push young people into riskier tanning practices, like using unregulated machines at peoples' homes or spending more time in the sun.

The bill does not restrict minors from getting spray-on or mist tans that some salons offer.

Illinois joins California and Vermont in banning tanning bed use by those younger than 18. At least 27 other states regulate indoor tanning for minors with other restrictions, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Sponsoring Sen. Christine Radogno, R-Lemont, said the new law serves as an educational tool for the public and gives support to parents trying to prevent their children from visiting tanning salons.

Another measure Quinn signed into law Thursday aims to prevent young smokers from buying electronic cigarettes, which do not contain tobacco but usually are filled with flavored nicotine, giving users a warm, vaporous hit without producing a cloud of smoke. As with regular cigarettes, those younger than 18 will be prohibited from buying "alternative nicotine products."

The law, which goes into effect Jan. 1, requires store clerks to check photo IDs of any person who "appears to be under 27" before selling an electronic cigarette or similar product. Stores that violate the law could be hit with fines of $200 or more.

Supporters of the measure say electronic cigarettes are falsely advertised as having minimal health risks and can come with flavored nicotine cartridges that can be enticing to young people.

"Nicotine has been proven to be a harmful and addictive substance," sponsoring Democratic Sen. John Mulroe of Chicago said in a statement. "We ban children from purchasing it in all of its other forms. This law just helps us keep up with the advancements in the ways it is being sold."


©2013 the Chicago Tribune

Distributed by MCT Information Services

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