A law banning anyone under 18 years of age from using indoor tanning equipment went into effect Thursday.
House Bill 168 was named the Jim Fulghum Teen Skin Cancer Prevention Act after a late state representative and retired physician from Wake County who had sponsored a previous version of the bill during the previous legislative session.
Both Surry County representatives, Rep. Sarah Stevens and Sen. Shirley Randleman, had voted in favor of the bill which was signed into law by the governor in May.
The legislation amended an existing law that prohibited anyone 13 years and younger from using the equipment without a written prescription.
According to a statement released by the National Conference of State Legislators, North Carolina is one of 12 states banning tanning bed use for all minors under 18.
The legislation is aimed at curbing rising numbers of skin cancers and their associated treatment costs.
According to a statement released in March by the North Carolina Dermatology Association, nearly 5 million people nationwide are treated annually for all skin cancers combined, at an estimated cost of $8.1 billion. Treatment costs of melanoma, the deadliest of all the skin cancers and responsible for about 9,000 deaths per year, reach about $3.3 billion annually.
The statement said melanoma is the most common form of cancer for young adults 25 to 29 years old and the second most common form of cancer for ages 15 to 29.
“In a recent study, 76 percent of melanoma cases among ages 18 to 29 who had tanned indoors were attributable to tanning bed use. In addition, teens and young adults who began tanning before the age of 35 have a 59 percent higher risk of melanoma,” the statement said.
A local business owner said the ban won’t have much of an effect on business.
“We will lose a small percentage,” said Crystle Norman, owner of Suntan Magic on East Pine Street in Mount Airy.
To prepare for the Oct. 1 ban, Norman said they went through their system and called clients under 18 to let them know they would have to use their active sessions before Oct. 1.
Of nearly 2,000 clients, “I think we had about 18 people.”
Norman said minors tend to only want to use the equipment before big events like the prom.
A professional in the industry recommended that Norman keep a record of the identification for any client 25 or under.
“I dread it,” she said. “But it’s like any law, it’s something we have to abide by.”
Terri Flagg can be reached at 415-4734.