At what age should people legally be allowed to increase their risk of getting cancer? That is the fundamental question dividing North Carolina House of Representatives Republicans in legislative hearings Wednesday.
The House Regulatory Reform Subcommittee on Business and Labor approved House Bill 18, also known as the Youth Cancer Prevention Act, on Wednesday to be heard and possibly voted on as soon as the following week.
House Republican Susan Martin of Wilson County said she was not excited to vote in favor of approving it because she supports freedom. "But looking at all the data, it clearly is a health concern and growing," she said.
Rep. Brian Brown, R-Pitt, piped in to say that he agreed because his friend got skin cancer when she was only 32 and there was clearly no other explanation than a tanning bed. Under current state law, she could have begun using one at the age of 14, with a parent's signed permission slip, or even earlier with a dermatologist's prescription. If House Bill 18 becomes a law, then 18 will become the lowest age at which anyone in the state can legally receive indoor ultraviolet tanning services.
Rep. Marilyn Avila, R-Wake, said it wouldn't do any good to outlaw teenagers in tanning beds, because then they would just lie out in the sun, unsupervised. She said North Carolina is not a nanny-state and House Bill 18 would take away parental rights over their children.
Republican Congressman Bert Jones, of Rockingham County pointed out that parents don't have any rights over their children when it comes to the risk of getting cancer. "If you follow that line of thinking, we probably shouldn't have any laws in this state banning minors from going out and purchasing cigarettes," he said. "But we do because of health concerns."
All this from the Republican-controlled state subcommittee that is supposedly dedicated to regulatory reform and not expansion.