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Cancer survivors, supporters push for Arizona bills to ease cancer burden

LISTEN: Two bills said to ease burden of cancer in Arizona

PHOENIX — Cancer survivors, health professionals and supporters are seeking support from state lawmakers for two bills they say will ease the burden of cancer in Arizona.

One of those bills, HB 2084, would prohibit minors under the age of 18 from using tanning beds. At least 15 states and the District of Columbia have already passed similar bills, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Debra Adornetto-Garcia, chief nursing officer for Banner MD Anderson Cancer Center, said she used tanning beds as a teenager and is now a skin cancer survivor. She was diagnosed with melanoma in 2003.

“We didn’t know back when I was a young child what the effects of indoor tanning beds and sun exposure could do to you,” she said.

She pointed to research that shows using tanning beds before the age of 35 increases the risk for developing melanoma by 59 percent. She said knowing this drives her to want to prevent her 11-year-old daughter and other children from using tanning beds at a young age.

“As a melanoma survivor, my priority is to protect her and other children against these harmful effects from indoor tanning beds,” she said.

Adornetto-Garcia was among the dozens of volunteers with the American Cancer Society’s Cancer Action Network who were at the Arizona State Capitol Tuesday morning speaking with state lawmakers about the bill.

They were also there advocating for another bill, SB 1010, that would raise the legal age to buy tobacco products and e-cigarettes in Arizona from 18 to 21. According to the American Cancer Society, this bill would help reduce tobacco use among teens, “especially considering that nationally about 95 percent of adult smokers started before they turned 21.”

Eleven-year-old Wyatt Norred was among the volunteers speaking in support of SB 1010 on Tuesday.

“I want to protect my friends and other kids from the effects of smoking and making a lifelong decision they’re not ready for,” he said.

HB 2084 is scheduled for a hearing Thursday morning with the House Health Committee. Meanwhile, SB 1010 has not been scheduled for a hearing.

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