Wednesday, November 11, 2009


I have to admit, I am very surprised that the Board of Health approved the youth tanning ban. No one elected the Board of Health, so they have to be a pretty arrogant and self righteous bunch of people to think they have the moral authority to force their will on others. Really, it is truly fascinating that a group of people can be so full of themselves and at the same time have such a low opinion of the general public. Even if I thought that youth tanning was a bad idea, I wouldn’t have the audacity to force others to bend to my will as this Board of Health has done. This is no different than the government banning gay marriage, drugs, abortion, or any other activity between private citizens with no social consequences. Tanning is not a public health issue, it’s a private health issue that affects only those who choose to tan.

Think about it. Who would even allow their own physician to make decisions like this for themselves or for others? And Howard County allows the Board of Health, none of whom were elected and many of the members of which are not even doctors, to make social policy. Wow. That seems pretty dumb.

Beilenson led off the hearing by telling the board that "indoor tanning is quite simply bad for you." He called scientific arguments to the contrary "junk science. Don't let the tanning industry play games with the science as tobacco did before them," he said. Board members appeared to accept that.

"I feel this whole issue is based on a preponderance of scientific evidence," said board chairman Robert Sheesley, a former director of Baltimore County's Department of the Environment. Sheesley said he had used indoor tanning beds as a youth. "I've had numerous pre-cancerous conditions," in later life, he said.

Other board members said they considered the impact on tanning salon business owners and arguments that Maryland's new law requiring parental permission in person for minors to tan indoors is enough protection, but ultimately rejected them.

"Even if we are able to save one life it seems to me worthwhile," said board member Sue Song, who also said she's no fan of unnecessary governmental controls.

"We don't give our children permission to drink or smoke," added board member Vanessa Foreman-Islam. Approving the ban is "the safest bet" given the evidence of rising skin cancers, especially among young women.

Ken Ulman and Peter Bielenson pursued this absurd regulation in an effort to get their names in national spotlight. The Lance Armstrong Foundation even had a blog post about Howard County’s new regulation. It’s great that groups like the LAF work to find a cure for cancer, but special interest groups like the LAF are the worst imaginable groups to advocate for social policy. They view cancer in a very emotional and irrational manner.

Fortunately, a lobbyist has threatened to challenge the authority of the Board of Health to approve ridiculous legislation such as this. Normally I despise lobbyists, but I wish this one the best of luck.


PZGURU said...

I agree with most of what you are saying here. I don't agree that this as the same as if the govt banned abortion. Abortion is an action committed against another life whereas someone choosing to smoke, or choosing to use a tanning bad only impacts that person. Unless the abortion is to SAVE the life of the woman carrying the child, or to terminate a pregnancy caused by rape or incest, abortion is the termination of a human being's life (it's murder).