By Laura Zuckerman
SALMON, Idaho (Reuters) - An Idaho Senate committee on Thursday nixed a measure that would have banned the use of tanning beds by teenagers amid worries about rising skin cancer rates.
The bill, which was defeated by a 5-3 vote, came as lawmakers in Idaho and 16 other states consider following California's lead in putting new restrictions on teen tanning.
California last year became the first state to ban tanning beds for anyone under the age of 18.
Idaho's law would have outlawed tanning beds for teens and children, ages 15 and younger. It required parental consent for minors aged 16 to 18 before using ultraviolet tanning devices.
The proposed legislation cleared the state House on Tuesday despite opposition by tanning bed manufacturers, indoor tanning salon operators and the Freedom Foundation, a group against government regulations.
The foundation had said Idaho was in danger of becoming a "nanny state" for attempting to impose restrictions on parental control and teens. That argument gained traction among some of Idaho's Republican-led legislature.
Rep. John Rusche, the Lewiston Democrat sponsoring the legislation, said he will be back with the bill next year in attempt to lessen the number of cases of melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, in the state.
"The calculations show that with the reduction of tanning with children and adolescents, we can save from five to seven Idahoans from deaths each year from melanoma," Rusche, a pediatrician, told Reuters on Thursday.
"There aren't many efforts we make that can protect that many lives," he said.
Exposure to ultraviolet radiation, either from the sun or through tanning beds or sun lamps, increases the risk of developing skin cancer, for which rates are rising, according to the National Cancer Institute.
(Editing by Dan Whitcomb and Tim Gaynor)