New Law for Texas Teen Tanners

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SHERMAN, TX--Effective January 1, 2010, anyone under the age of sixteen and a half can no longer set foot in a Texas tanning bed. Anyone under eighteen needs written approval from a parent if they want to tan.

This new law is meant to protect young people who may not know some of the risks associated with tanning. However, some parents and lawmakers are saying this issue doesn't need to be handled by the government.

Tanning salon owner, Debbie Hargesheimer isn't naiïve to the fact that too much tanning can be detrimental to teens. But she says education and moderation are the keys to keeping them safe.

"It's kind of sad that we're stepping back, instead of stepping forward,” Hargesheimer said. “You know we're not teaching these kids how to come to a licensed facility that has been Smart Tan Certified where we can teach them how to tan in moderation, and that's the main word is moderations."

Smart Tan Certification, and several laws already in place by the state of Texas were enacted to help regulate tanning time, and frequency. But some say too many regulations can take away from the roles parents should play.

Hargesheimer is the owner of Ja Makin Me Tan, in Sherman, but she's also a mother.

"I just feel sad that we're not able to teach the kids,” she said, “and senators are actually telling the parents that they can't even have a say so in it."

State representative, and author of the bill that became the law to ban teen tanning, Burt Soloman, was passionate about making a connection between the legal smoking age, and those who should be able to tan, citing that both could lead to cancer.

Congressman Ralph Hall disagrees with the new law, and says he hopes this topic never becomes a federal issue, because some things should be left in the hands of parents.

"I don't think you need any legislation either in the state or in the federal government telling mothers and dads how to treat their sixteen year old,” Hall said. “I think that's up to the family. I'm against anything that silly."

Ja Makin Me Tan won't really be affected by the new law, Hargesheimer said, because most people who tan aren't in that age bracket. It's more the principal of the government trying to run her business that makes her uneasy.

This version of the law is strict by some standards, but Solomon's original draft would have required a doctor's note for anyone under 18 to go tanning.

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