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States consider banning minors from using tanning beds

LOS ANGELES — If a proposed law passes, California teens under 18 will need a fake ID to ‘‘fake and bake’’ themselves to a golden brown.

Citing skin cancer risks, legislators have joined lawmakers in at least 21 other states who have debated bills this year to ban or restrict tanning bed use by minors.

Teens under the age of 14 are already banned from tanning beds in California, and older teens need parental permission. But lawmakers in the Golden State are considering banning anyone under age 18 from using tanning beds, even if a parent says it’s OK.

Sen. Ted Lieu, who proposed the more stringent legislation, said the parent signatures on permission forms are often forged, and tanning salons benefit financially by looking the other way. The bill has been approved by the Senate and faces review by the Assembly policy committee today.

Lieu chides vain teens who make a habit of slipping into tanning beds, saying they’re short-sighted because ‘‘you will age doing this. Your skin will look more leathery later on.’’

According to the Food and Drug Administration, exposure to UV radiation, whether from the sun or a tanning bed, can cause skin cancer, burns, premature skin aging and eye damage. Approximately 30 million Americans visit tanning salons every year, and 2.3 million of those are teens, the FDA says.

‘‘There is no such thing as a safe tan,’’ according to the agency. ‘‘The increase in skin pigment, called melanin, which causes the tan color change in your skin, is a sign of damage.’’

In 2009, a World Health Organization research group classified UV-emitting tanning beds as ‘‘carcinogenic,’’ adding that health officials should strongly consider restricting minors’ access to sunbeds. WHO, the American Medical Association and the American Academy of Dermatology all support legislation banning the use of sunbeds and lamps for teens younger than 18.