Tuesday, October 30, 2012

The Candidates and the Tanning Ban Bill

Back in June, I was fortunate enough to join a few others to talk with North Carolina state legislators about the tanning ban bill to be reintroduced next term.  Also known as the Youth Skin Cancer Prevention Act, article a2 of section 2 reads, “The operator (tanning bed owner) shall not allow a person 13 years and younger less than 18 years of age to use tanning equipment without a written prescription from the person’s medical physician specifying the nature of the medical condition requiring the treatment, the number of visits, and the time of exposure for each visit.”

While I’d rather either do without the physicians’ prescription part, or require such to be administered by a licensed radiologist only, I find the amended statement very promising. After all, the original bill stated 13 years and younger and someone must have said, “whoa…let’s make it under 18.”  Kudos to this person!

Anyhow, during my rounds, Rob the Lobbyist introduced me to a gentleman who was supposedly my district representative.  The meeting went well and he even stated that “going to a tanning salon seems stupid anyhow.”  He was a definite vote to pass next year’s bill.  But there was one problem.  The gentleman was miles apart from my personal political views and there was no way I would have ever voted for him in the past.  I faced a dilemma…do I vote for a sure-fire vote against tanning, or do I compromise all my other political beliefs?

As the upcoming election approached, I decided to write my representative and his challenger.  Well, it turned out that Rob the Lobbyist was wrong.   The gentleman I spoke with is NOT my district representative after all.  Regardless, I decided to write to all four candidates up for office in my district…two running for State Representative and two running for State Senator.  Here’s what I wrote:   

Good evening,

The Youth Skin Cancer Prevention Act, NC Senate Bill 471, will most likely be reintroduced in some form during the next term.  It states that persons less than 18 years of age would not be allowed to use tanning beds without permission from a physician.  What is your stance on this bill?  Do you oppose it, support it, or support with change?

Thank you in advance for your answer.

I tried to make it sound as neutral as I possibly could.

Of the candidates, two of them answered…one Rep candidate and one Senate candidate.  The Representative Candidate responded the very next day as follows:

Thanks for reaching out to contact me.  I am not familiar with the bill or topic you have asked about and before I could give you an opinion I would need to hear the pros and cons from both sides.  So to answer your question, I don’t have enough information to answer your question if I support or oppose at this time.

I respect his answer and I appreciate his quick answer.  And I promise you, he WILL receive some information from me soon.  In fact, I met him at the early voting site yesterday and he remembered our email exchange.  We talked only briefly (it was freezing outside) but he seemed very receptive to anything I could present.

The one Senate candidate responded a few days later as follows:

My apologies for the delayed reply; it has been a crazy week with the start of early voting.  I have done some initial research and have had some discussion on this topic.  It appears as though there is a link between increasing incidence of skin cancer and the use of tanning beds in the teen years.  As such, it is likely that I would be in favor of legislation that would prevent the use of tanning beds by persons under age 18.  With respect to more specifics of the legislation, I would need to have further discussions.  Is there any material you could share with me that would expand my knowledge further?  I would appreciate anything you would be willing to send.

Thanks so much for reaching out to me on this important issue.

Whoo hoo…perfect answer!

I’m happy to say that I share many of the same political values as both of these candidates…so they both got my vote.  I’m disappointed, however that I didn’t hear from the other two candidates.  I may not have voted for them anyway, but their silence strongly encouraged a vote for each of their opponents.

The point of this post is not to share my meager political outreach for this election…but to encourage yours.  You have only a week left to vote (or less if you’re voting early) but I encourage you to contact your candidates to get their take on the tanning issue in your state.  Many of these candidates have no opinion yet and your voice can make a huge difference.


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