'The paradigm that tan skin is beautiful killed my daughter'

'The paradigm that tan skin is beautiful killed my daughter'

SEATTLE -- Washington teens who want a bronzed body may soon have to get their glow the old fashioned ways.

Lawmakers held a public hearing Monday to discuss legislation that would ban minors from using tanning beds in Washington. Lawmakers in Oregon have proposed

a similar measure.



Many kids use tanning beds for dates, dances or to get rid of acne. While most assume the practice is harmless, one Tacoma couple tell a different story.

"This is a picture we felt we had to take, because we didn't think it was going to be that much longer at this point," Peter Rasmussen said of a family portrait.

Three months after the portrait was taken, Rasmussen's daughter, Shelley, was dead.

"The paradigm that tan skin is beautiful killed my daughter," Rasmussen said.

As a teen, Shelley tanned before school dances and vacations. The married mother of two was just 34-years old when she died of melanoma.

"(My wife) Wendy and I cry about it on a regular basis. That's why I really hope this is the last time I'm going to have to testify on the issue of tanning beds," Rasmussen said.

Attending Monday's hearing, Rasmussen urged lawmakers in Olympia to pass a bill banning children under 18-years old from using tanning beds. If the bill passes, salons that let kids use their beds could face fines of $2,500 a day.

Currently there aren't any age restrictions for tanning beds in Washington, but West Seattle Tanning Salon owners Beverly Fauvelle agrees minors should be kept out.

'They're outside, they don't need anymore," she said. "If they're getting ready for a prom and have parent's consent, they can come in and tan for a week for 5 minutes, okay. Otherwise, it's just common sense."

This is the fourth year that Rasmussen has testified against teen tanning bed usage, and he hopes it's the last.

"It tears us up each time we have to do this and I just as soon be done, but we're not going to give up if it doesn't pass this time we'll be back," he said.

Washington and Oregon are two of 10 states looking at legislation this year that would ban minors from using tanning beds. Similar laws have already been passed in California, Quebec, France, Germany and Australia.