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Maine governor vetoes restrictions on teen tanning

AUGUSTA, Maine (AP) -- Maine Gov. Paul LePage announced Thursday that he vetoed a bill to prohibit tanning facilities from allowing those under 18 years of age to use tanning machines.

LePage announced his veto via Twitter, saying it's up to parents, not lawmakers, to decide whether kids should be allowed to tan indoors. "Maine parents can make the right decisions for their families," he said.

The bill's sponsor, a physician, accused the governor of playing politics with children's health.

"There are times when science and medicine should supersede politics. This is one of those times," said Sen. Geoff Gratwick, D-Bangor, who's chief of rheumatology at Eastern Maine Medical Center.

Legislatures in more than 20 states have debated the subject of teens using tanning beds and booths because of concerns about the health risks.

The Food and Drug Administration says exposure to UV radiation, whether from the sun or indoor tanning, can cause skin cancer, burns, premature skin aging and eye damage. And the American Academy of Pediatrics says powerful tanning beds produce radiation levels up to "10 to 15 times higher than that of the midday sun."

Gratwick said it's medically proven that teens who use tanning beds increase their risk of cancer by 75 percent. "This surely is a public health issue. It is definitely a safety issue. And it's one that we should all stand behind," he said after the veto.

In Maine, the law currently requires parents to provide permission for a minor who's at least 14 to use tanning machines, and LePage said that should be good enough.

"This is government run amok. Maine parents can make the right decisions for their families," the Republican governor said in a statement that followed his Twitter announcement.

It would require a two-thirds vote in the House and Senate to override the veto. The Senate is expected to revisit the tanning bill next week.