The Nanny State, Part 4
I’m hearing a bit of a buzz about this new law the General Assembly just passed about requiring a doctor’s note or a parent’s signature every other visit to a tanning bed for minors. My first thought was also as some are making this out, “More anti-business legislation.” But then, it’s really a decision on how harmful the tanning beds are. If you believe they are and that they cause skin cancer, then tanning beds are harmful to people. We’ve also decided as a society that we don’t want to let minors make decisions for themselves about things that could be harmful to them. Other examples would include the drinking age for alcohol and the minimum age for purchasing cigarettes. Both have been deemed harmful to minors, so they’re not allowed. Is a tanning bed at least as harmful to minors as those other two things? I don’t know, you can decide that for yourself.
One thing that gets me about the bill is how it doesn’t really have the guts one way or the other. If it’s harmful, then ban it. If it’s not, then leave it alone. Plus, look at the nightmare of enforcement that the law just created for the tanning studio operators. The minor needs the in-person parental signature at least every two visits. Oh great. So 17 year old Brittany comes in for her pre-prom tan and the person working has to figure out if this is an odd-numbered visit (first visit requires a signature too). Or is this an even-numbered one? Or what if there are multiple studios around? Can she go to each of them for her even-numbered visit and rack up the exposure without Mommy or Daddy knowing?
It also comes down to a parenting issue. But that would be similar for the alcohol and tobacco as well. If I’m doing my job, I should be able to instill values in my child to know what’s bad for her to the point where she can make those decisions in a smart way for herself. If I can’t, odds are that I’ll probably just sign the paper anyway.
So come on Assembly, if you’re going to take on an issue, let’s do it. Enough of this half a loaf stuff.