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State ban on teen tanning? ‘Oh my God! I would cry’

Randi Slager right  looks tanning bed Heatwaves Tan SalFrankfort IL Friday April 26  2013.   | Matt

Randi Slager, right, looks at a tanning bed at Heatwaves Tan Salon in Frankfort, IL on Friday April 26, 2013. | Matt Marton~Sun-Times Media

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Updated: June 8, 2013 6:22AM

Prom season means tanning season for area teens who think the tone of their skin is as important as the color of their dress, flowers and fingernails.

But a new bill that could wind its way to Gov. Pat Quinn’s desk would make this the last prom season to tan at a salon for those younger than 18.

“Oh my God! I would cry. I would be very upset,” Valentina Manns, 16, of Frankfort, said as she came in recently for a tanning session at Heatwaves in Frankfort. Like many teens, she likes to tan before a dance or to get ready for summer.

“This will be devastating to a lot of young girls,” Heatwaves owner Shearin Juris said.

Teen tanners and salon owners said such a ban would interfere with parental and individual rights, and tanning no worse than sunning at the beach. They agree there should be some restrictions — and quickly point out that rules already exist.

Chicago and Springfield ban tanning at a salon for anyone under 18. Elsewhere in the state, such tanning is allowed only for those 14 to 18 with a parental signature, and it can be no more than once every 24 hours and for no more than 10 to 15 minutes.

Identical bills in the state House and Senate would expand that ban throughout the state. Each bill easily passed its respective chamber and is headed for the other.

Bill sponsor Sen. Christine Radogno (R-Lemont) said she is “confident” Quinn will sign the bill this summer, making the ban effective Jan. 1.

“The weight of the evidence that ultraviolet tanning is very, very bad for you is everywhere ,” said Radogno, who admitted that she tanned “once or twice” when she was “well over 18.” She also said her three daughters tanned when they were underage, although she discouraged it.

“A lot of moms grew up tanning. It’s still an education process,” Radogno said.

Manns said her mother tried to scare her by showing her a video on the dangers of ultraviolet tanning beds, but that didn’t stop her.

“I have to pay for it, but she was willing to sign for it,” Manns said. “I think about [the negative effects], but I’m not worried about it.”

Another Heatwaves customer, Randi Slager, 17, of Frankfort, said skin disease runs in her family, so she was “never a fan of tanning.”

“But prom season is around the corner. I felt I needed a tan,” she said, saying it will make her “look prettier” in her ice-blue prom gown.

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