Pennsylvania could soon join the majority of states that regulate minors' use of indoor tanning facilities.

The Senate health committee unanimously passed the Indoor Tanning Regulation Act last month. Approved by the House in May 2013, it would ban minors age 16 and younger from using tanning facilities and require 17-year-olds to have written parental consent.

The bill also would require tanning devices to meet federal and state standards, as well as require tanning facilities to post warning signs on the premises.

It's hard to argue with the reasoning. Doctors have long warned tanning increases the risk of developing skin cancer.

In fact, a study cited by the Skin Cancer Foundation suggests ultraviolet radiation released in tanning beds may be more carcinogenic than the type absorbed from the sun, because it "penetrates more deeply and causes more genetic damage in the skin cells where most skin cancers arise."

Then there's the premature aging of the skin, such as wrinkles and liver spots, that's a side effect of a temporary glow.

We get it.

Still, it makes us uneasy when a government decides it knows how to raise children better than their parents.

State Sen. Rob Teplitz, who voted in favor of the bill, has heard that argument before.

"There are a lot of things that we prevent minors from doing for their own good, regardless of what their parents think," said Teplitz, a Democrat who represents part of York County.


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Point taken.

But where does it stop?

For instance, childhood obesity is an epidemic in this country. Overweight children are more likely to have a host of medical issues, including high blood pressure and high cholesterol, type 2 diabetes, breathing and joint problems, as well as social and psychological issues, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

These children also are more likely to become obese adults with more serious medical problems, like heart disease and certain cancers.

So do lawmakers want to tell parents how many cookies their children can have? Would they like to mandate exercise for the kids?

Apparently not.

The battle against childhood obesity is being waged through an education campaign to teach parents how to make healthy choices for their children at home.

Why not take that approach with children and tanning? Make sure adults know the risks, then let them decide what's best for their kids.

That's what parents do.

And believe it or not, they don't always need a government nanny looking over their shoulders.