FDA Proposes Ban on Indoor Tanning for Minors

The ban would help fight skin cancer. A second proposed would require that sunlamp manufacturers and tanning facilities take additional measures to improve the overall safety of these devices.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has proposed a rule that would prohibit Americans under 18 from using tanning beds in order to reduce the risk of skin cancer. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, indoor tanning increases the risk of melanoma by 59 percent. Roughly 1.6 million minors tan indoors every year, according to one study.

One FDA proposed rules issued Dec. 18 would require that, before their first tanning session and every six months thereafter, adult users over age 18 would have to sign a risk acknowledgement certification that says they have been informed of the risks to health that may result from use of sunlamp products. (FDA cited CDC as the source for stating that on average more than 3,000 emergency department room visits occur for injuries related to indoor tanning each year in the United States, based on 2003-2012 data.)

A second proposed issued the same day that would require that sunlamp manufacturers and tanning facilities take additional measures to improve the overall safety of these devices, including making warnings easier to read and more prominent on the device; requiring an emergency shut-off switch (a "panic button"); improving eye safety by adding requirements that would limit the amount of light allowed through protective eyewear; improving labeling on replacement bulbs so tanning facility operators can make sure they are using the proper replacement bulbs, reducing the risk of accidental burns; and prohibiting dangerous device modifications, such as installing stronger bulbs, without re-certifying and re-identifying the device with the FDA.

"The FDA understands that some adults may decide to continue to use sunlamp products," continued acting FDA Commissioner Dr. Stephen Ostroff, M.D. "These proposed rules are meant to help adults make their decisions based on truthful information and to ensure manufacturers and tanning facilities take additional steps to improve the safety of these devices."

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