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Tanning booths now off-limits to minors after City Council vote

Mayor Rahm Emanuel talks with Ald. Walter  Burnett City Council chambers.  | Al Podgorski

Mayor Rahm Emanuel talks with Ald. Walter Burnett in the City Council chambers. | Al Podgorski

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Updated: July 8, 2012 6:51PM

Chicago teenagers who crave that bronze glow will just have to get it from a bottle, tube or can — or the sun itself.

The City Council agreed Wednesday to ban minors from the city’s tanning parlors.

Rookie North Side Ald. Debra Silverstein (50th), a former sun worshipping teen, pushed through the ordinance after using the tearful testimony from two former tanning bed enthusiasts — Donna Moncivaiz, 50, and Katrina Polansky, 24 — since diagnosed with melanoma to convince her colleagues of the danger. They were in the City Council chambers to witness Wednesday’s vote.

Silverstein’s ordinance would prohibit tanning parlors from serving anyone under 18 “regardless of whether the person has the permission of a parent or guardian.”

Bronzers and spray-on tans would not be covered by the ban. Neither would tanning devices in private residences.

Violators would face fines ranging from $100 to $250 for each offense.

Prior to the final vote, Silverstein recognized the two melanoma victims in the audience and asked them to stand while aldermen applauded them for the courage they showed in sharing their personal stories.

“To Katrina, your courage is amazing. Please continue to follow up with your doctor and — always remember that you are beautiful on the inside and the out,” Silverstein said.

“To Donna, I hope that you beat those odds and are blessed with a full and complete recovery.”

The alderman added, “Tanning beds cause cancer. According to the American Cancer Society, in Illinois, there will be approximately 2,460 new melanoma cases and an estimated 360 people will die from the disease this year. We regulate cigarettes. We regulate alcohol. I’m asking you as legislators and I’m asking you as moms and dads and grandmas and grandpas to please help protect our children. I urge you to vote ‘yes’ for this life-saving ordinance.”

Three aldermen voted against the teen tanning ban: Anthony Beale (9th); Roberto Maldonado (26th) and Brendan Reilly (42nd).

Maldonado said he would never allow any of his children to visit a tanning salon. But, he said, “I don’t need government to tell me” what to do in that regard.

“We need to draw a line. Right now, there is a requirement of parental consent. That is good enough for me as a parent. I’m assuming the responsibility for what I allow my kids to do or not to do. Plus, the scientific debate on this is not as conclusive as it is for the effect of the abuse of alcohol or the abuse of cigarettes.”

Reilly said he voted against the ban because “I don’t believe city government should be in the business of micro-managing people’s personal decisions. ... Parents need to parent. I’ve consistently taken issue when local government tries to legislate good behavior on personal lifestyle issues like this.”

But Mayor Rahm Emanuel sided with Silverstein.

“We’re finally raising the city standards to the national standards. Other cities have already done this, so I think it’s appropriate,” the mayor said.

Asked whether he would allow his own daughters to go to a tanning parlor, Emanuel refused to answer, calling it a “private thing.”

But, he said, “A lot of parents tell kids not to smoke. And then, we make sure we have a national or city or state code as it relates to making sure teenagers can’t buy cigarettes. This is putting the city ordinance on the side of helping parents in their responsibility of being good parents. It’s aligning those interests and helping.”

The Indoor Tanning Association has argued that parents should decide whether to allow their teens to tan — not Big Brother government.

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