Governor Pat Quinn today took steps to protect the health of youth across Illinois by signing legislation that prevents anyone under the age of 18 from using tanning beds and electronic cigarettes, an increasingly common cigarette alternative. The Governor was joined by legislators, health professionals, survivors of melanoma and their families, and teens who have recognized the dangers of skin cancer and nicotine addiction. Today's action is part of Governor Quinn's commitment to protecting and improving the health of the people of Illinois.
"Our young people have their whole lives ahead of them and we want them to be well, grow and thrive in Illinois," Governor Quinn said. "I am signing these new laws today so that our youth and their families can be spared the consequences of very serious and preventable health problems that are caused by dangerous habits formed at a young age. Together these measures will protect the health of Illinois youth and save lives in the long-run."
Sponsored by State Representative Robyn Gabel (D-Evanston) and Senate Minority Leader Christine Radogno (R-Lemont), House Bill 188 prevents youth under the age of 18 from using tanning beds, which studies have shown can lead to cancer. According to research, people who begin using tanning beds at a young age have a 75 percent higher risk of developing melanoma. Over the past 40 years, the rate of young women with melanoma has grown by 800 percent.
Current law in Illinois allows minors to access tanning beds with parental or guardian consent. The new legislation is designed to respond to increased worldwide awareness of the dangers of melanoma and an understanding of the urgency required in the prevention of skin cancer. HB 188 passed with the strong support of the American Cancer Society and the American Medical Association. The new law takes effect January 1, 2014.
Governor Quinn also signed Senate Bill 1756, sponsored by State Representative Kathleen Willis (D-Addison) and State Senator John Mulroe (D-Chicago), which bans anyone under the age of 18 from using electronic cigarettes and other alternative nicotine products. While electronic cigarettes do not contain tobacco, these products do contain nicotine, which is the highly addictive substance that makes smoking difficult to quit once someone begins. Dependence on nicotine is the most common form of chemical dependence, impacting almost 20 percent of all Americans.
"Nicotine has been proven to be a harmful and addictive substance," Senator Mulroe said. "We ban children from purchasing it in all of its other forms. This law just helps us keep up with the advancements in the ways it is being sold."
The law takes effect January 1, 2014.
For more information on the dangers of skin cancer and melanoma, visit www.cancer.org. For more information on the dangers of nicotine addiction and how to quit, visit www.smokefree.gov.