Oklahoma senator proposes bill to ban minors from using tanning beds

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OKLAHOMA CITY - When Traci Stackhouse was just 14 years old, she wanted nothing more than to fit in with her friends.

"I didn't want my legs to be white in my cheerleading uniform. I wanted to go to prom tan. All of my friends wanted to be tan,” Stackhouse said.

However, that time in the tanning bed caught up to Stackhouse when she was diagnosed with melanoma at 32 years old  and again at 34 years old.

"Ironically, my mom who drove me to tan was also the one who walked me through all the steps of chemotherapy," she said.

According to the American Cancer Society, one in six high school girls will use a tanning device by their senior year.

Sen. Ervin Yen co-authored Senate Bill 765, which would make it illegal for any child under 18 to use a tanning bed.

"We know that the younger that you use these tanning beds, the greater the incidence of skin cancers caused, and skin cancers are the number one cancers in America,” said Yen, of District 40.

About a dozen other states allow tanning with parental or guardian consent for those under 18, but Yen doesn't think that's enough.

"When you look at those states, the teenage tanning did not decrease, and that's the whole point. We're trying to decrease teenage tanning,” Yen said.

While Sen. Rob Standridge does think some control is merited, he worries banning all minors could infringe on parent's rights.

“This is a very strong parental rights state, as you know, and we try to entrust parents with those tough decisions like that, so the question is should a parent be trusted for this with their kid?" Standridge said.

Riviera Tanning Spa didn't want to go on camera but told us over the phone they already forbid minors from using their tanning beds.

Stackhouse hopes a law will force others to do the same.

"We wouldn't let them smoke. We wouldn't sign them a note for them to smoke, so let's not let them tan," Stackhouse said.

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