Assemblyman Ralph Caputo, who represents the Township of Nutley, where a mother became infamous for allegedly letting her five-year-old daughter tan, is pushing for restrictions on tanning bed usage by teens.
He is sponsoring a bill that would ban or restrict children ages 16 to 18 from using tanning salon beds.
Caputo said a law already on the books makes the use of tanning beds illegal for those 14 and younger, but he co-sponsored this legislation after Nutley mother Patricia Krentcil was accused of putting her then 5-year-old daughter into a tanning booth.
Krentcil has pleaded not guilty to child endangerment, and the case is under review by a grand jury.
Caputo said the bill has been approved by the Assembly, but was stalled in a Senate committee. However, it may come to a vote as early as September. He said the committee voted 7-3 to make the minimum age for tanning beds 16 with limits until the age 18.
Caputo’s district represents Bloomfield and Nutley and part of Newark.
The bill has drawn praise and support from Nutley resident Dan Geltrude, who formed the Mike Geltrude Foundation, named after his father who fought and died from skin cancer.
In a previous interview, Dan Geltrude said his father fought melanoma valiantly before his death seven years ago.
“My father did not ask, ‘Why me?’ he fought back,” Geltrude said.
Since that time the foundation educated Nutley residents to use sun block and check moles to make sure that the growths are not cancerous, and Geltrude immediately called for tougher laws restricting tanning bed use.
“We want to tell parents about everything we’ve learned,” Geltrude said.
Existing state law allows emancipated minors and minors between 14 and 18 years old age with written authorization from a parent or guardian to use tanning beds, Caputo said.
The bill proposes multiple fines against parents if their minor children use tanning booths without parental supervision. The fines could rise from $100 to $1,000 for a first offense and from $300 to $3,000 for a second offense, Caputo said.