Gov. Jerry Brown has signed a bill authored by state Sen. Ted Lieu, D-Torrance, banning youths under age 18 from using indoor tanning booths – the first in the nation to ban indoor tanning by minors.
Lieu, whose 28th District includes Marina del Rey, said he initially tried to get a similar bill passed in 2007, but failed.
"I'm pleased that over fours year later that it has now become law," Lieu said Monday. "I think it will help save lives and reduce unnecessary suffering. The evidence is now conclusive that indoor tanning causes melanoma."
Lieu said melanoma is the leading cause of cancer death among women and that early exposure to the intense ultraviolet rays emitted by tanning beds can increase the lifetime risk of melanoma by 75 percent. He said he believes that that spray tanning is a far better option than outdoor tanning and tanning beds.
Lieu pushed the bill through the Legislature with a press conference in Sacramento in April to review the health threat posed to teens and a September press conference at Children's Hospital in Los Angeles with healthcare professionals and a melanoma survivor who used tanning beds.
The bill, SB 746, was signed Sunday by Brown. It was sponsored by the California Society of Dermatology & Dermatological Surgery and the Aim at Melanoma Foundation. It also was supported by the California Medical Association, Anthem Blue Cross, Kaiser Permanente and the American Academy of Pediatrics.
Lieu said it was difficult to get the bill passed.
"The tanning industry is still a very strong industry, that's why a lot of states that have tried to do this have failed," Lieu said. "Now that California has done it, other states will follow."
Thirty states have some restrictions on teens and tanning beds, including Texas, which has a tanning bed ban for anyone under 16 1/2 years old. New York, Illinois, Ohio and Rhode Island are considering bans similar to California. Several European countries, including France and England, have banned tanning beds for anyone under 18.
Existing Californi law prohibits anyone under 14 from using ultraviolet tanning devices, but allows tanning bed access for those between 14 and 18 with permission of a parent or legal guardian.
The new law will go into effect Jan. 1, 2012.
Pop music star Kay Perry in her hit song "California Gurls" sings of unforgettable girls with "sun-kissed skin," but a recent study from the Cancer Prevention Institute of America warned that melanoma rates have more than doubled among California females ages 15 to 39 in high socio-economic areas.
“Girls in affluent California communities especially are surrounded by the message that being tanned all year round is cool,” said study co-author Christina Clarke, of the Cancer Prevention Institute of California, in a September statement supporting Lieu's bill.
“Pop music star Katy Perry is even singing about it,” Clarke added. “But there is nothing cool about sun exposure that increases your risk for deadly cancer.”
Editor's Note: Updated with comments Monday from Lieu.