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Ban indoor tanning for those under 18

Assembly passage of a teen tan ban brings New York one step closer to protecting our kids from cancer-causing indoor tanning devices. Since the harmful effects of UV exposure accumulate over time, indoor tanning devices pose a greater risk for children and teens by boosting overall lifetime exposure.

The International Agency for Research on Cancer elevated tanning beds to the highest cancer risk category -- group 1 -- "carcinogenic to humans." According to the agency, the use of tanning beds before the age of 30 increases the risk of melanoma 75 percent. The relationship between indoor tanning and skin cancer can't be ignored.

The American Academy of Pediatrics, World Health Organization, American Medical Association and American Academy of Dermatology support legislation prohibiting access to tanning salons or use of artificial tanning devices by children under the age of 18.

Current law fails to protect the majority of teens, predominantly young women, who use indoor tanning. New York requires parental consent for minors ages 14 to 17 wishing to acquire an indoor tan, but this law does not adequately protect our children. Research has shown that the rate at which teens use tanning booths is the same in jurisdictions with parental consent laws as in those without.

The American Cancer Society was pleased to see the Assembly pass legislation banning use of indoor tanning devices by minors under the age of 18. Now the State Senate must pass S.2917 to protect our children from a known cancer-causing agent.

Thomas S. Mang

Board of Advisors, American Cancer

Society Western New York Region

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Country must reform election finance laws

If comedian Stephen Colbert can raise $1 million for his super PAC as a joke, as reported recently, imagine the kind of money serious candidates are amassing. Our election finance laws are in serious need of repair. No wonder our Congress does nothing and is rated next to nothing. They aren't the best people -- they are the best people money can buy.

The founding principle of our democracy was that the common people would govern themselves. But there is nothing common about spending tens of millions of dollars on a Senate campaign or $100 million on the presidency.

Dale Reeck

Cheektowaga

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Leaders at all levels should work together

It seems to me that two levels of government should be working together with the people's money and not in opposite directions.

The federal government is giving Buffalo $15 million of our taxpayer dollars to reconstruct Main Street so cars may drive on it at a time when other cities are moving toward dedicated pedestrian malls which, by the way, we already have. Cars being able to drive on Main Street will not put people or business back as it was in the 1950s, before the suburbs allowed developers to build their plazas and malls.

Now our Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority is in deficit $15 million and threatening the same taxpayers with eliminating bus routes and/or a fare increase. People will lose their jobs because they are unable to reach them by public transportation. Not everyone has a car!

It would make such good sense to take the federal construction money and give it to the state to put our NFTA back in the black so the taxpayers would not lose public transportation. Do we always have to watch our levels of government move forward with their heads in the sand toward useless things because business asks for it and never fix the broken things that "we the people" ask for?

So, maybe the federal and state governments could speak to one another and come to some reason. Do we want $15 million for unnecessary construction or $15 million for the people?

Evelyn Malone

Amherst

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Pitts is wrong to call conservatives 'racists'

Leonard Pitts' Jan. 26 column has me fuming ("The GOP playbook on racism"). He is the racist. Does he honestly believe that white people feel this way about black people? He does not know me or my family or friends. We are not racists.

Perhaps he does not know what conservatives believe. We believe that doling out a pittance to the poor is not living the American dream. We want a good life for everyone and the welfare system does not allow for that. It amazes me that thinking you can depend on the government will guarantee you a good life.

People who accomplish success on their own have a sense of pride. It breaks my heart to see children living in poverty. It isn't fair, but the government cannot solve this by just giving away money. There are three things that are proven to keep you out of poverty:

Get as much education as you can.

Take a job -- any job -- and be the best you can be at it.

Hold off having children until you are married.

This is simple and costs nothing. Why not teach this in our schools and in our homes? Why are conservatives put down for this way of thinking?

Judy McAuliffe

Williamsville

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New ethics board can still operate secretly

The recent ethics board created by Gov. Andrew Cuomo and legislative leaders to monitor ethical behavior of elected officials and lobbyists seems to me to be somewhat of a boondoggle when you consider its secretive functionality. This board was organized with the intention of being subject to the Open Meetings Law of New York State, which allows us, the electorate, privy to what is being discussed and about whom it is being discussed. That seems fair. We have a right to know the goings on of those we elected to office. It is the only way we are able to judge whether or not we elected the right person for the job.

Chairwoman Janet DiFiore said the board intends to follow "the spirit" of the Open Meetings Law, but noted a little-known executive rule that exempts the board from the state law and the Freedom of Information Law. How convenient for Albany. If the board happens to be investigating someone on the political totem pole and finds behavior that calls for disciplinary action, it can choose to keep that information secret and leave us in the dark. Perhaps the board will suggest to those being investigated to "cool it" and not bring any discredit to the Legislature. The ethics board will be doing its job and we, the voters, can look forward to a report that will be balanced on a middle finger and a loud silence.

Norman Machynski

Cheektowaga