CHICAGO — — As a young woman, Donna Moncivaiz would go to tanning salons looking for that perfect summer glow.
Now 51, Moncivaiz suffers from late-stage melanoma and says the cancer has spread to her lymph nodes, gall bladder, liver and brain. The Beach Park mother also allowed her daughter to tan and, at 25, she too was diagnosed with early-stage melanoma.
Doctors attribute both women's melanoma to tanning beds and time spent outside without sunscreen, and that's why Moncivaiz has been among the most vocal supporters of proposed legislation that Gov. Pat Quinn signed Thursday to ban indoor tanning in Illinois for anyone younger than 18.
"I don't want any mom to feel the guilt I feel, or go through what I'm going through," said Moncivaiz, who testified in favor of the bill during the spring legislative session.
Quinn signed the bill along with a measure that prohibits anyone under age 18 from smoking electronic cigarettes.
"I am signing these new laws today so that our youth and their families can be spared the consequences of very serious and preventable health problems that are caused by dangerous habits formed at a young age," Quinn said. "Together these measures will protect the health of Illinois youth and save lives in the long-run."
On the tanning issue, Quinn's decision meant he agreed with critics that the health concerns merit government prohibition, rather than merely leaving the choice of tanning to youths and their parents, as industry officials had argued as the legislation was debated by lawmakers.
Dr. Judy Knox, a dermatologist from Springfield, has long advocated for a teen tanning ban, saying sometimes parents don't know their kids are using tanning beds. She said ten sessions in a tanning bed doubles the risk for melanoma.