FDA Proposes New Rules for Indoor Tanning Beds

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is proposing new rules aimed at protecting people from the harms of indoor tanning. If passed, the proposal would restrict use of sunlamp products to adults 18 and older. It would also require adults who use the products to sign a form acknowledging they understand the risks to their health.

Indoor tanning, just like sun tanning outside, exposes skin to ultraviolet (UV) rays, the cause of most skin cancers. And tanning is particularly dangerous for the young. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), people who begin tanning during adolescence or early adulthood have a higher risk of melanoma, one of the deadliest types of skin cancer. Yet – according to the 2013 National Youth Risk Behavior Survey – 1.6 million minors indoor tan every year.

“Today’s action is intended to help protect young people from a known and preventable cause of skin cancer and other harms,” said acting FDA Commissioner Stephen Ostroff, MD in a statement. “Individuals under 18 years are at greatest risk of the adverse health consequences of indoor tanning.”

The FDA is also proposing new safety requirements for sunlamp makers and tanning facilities. They include:

  • making warnings easier to read and more prominent on the device
  • requiring an emergency shut off switch, or “panic button”
  • restricting the amount of light allowed through protective eyewear
  • improving labeling on replacement bulbs to reduce errors
  • banning changes such as installing stronger bulbs without re-certifying and re-identifying the device with the FDA

The American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, the advocacy affiliate of the American Cancer Society, stated, “The FDA’s long-awaited tanning device proposals are an important step that will help to reduce skin cancer diagnoses and deaths. We commend the FDA for educating the public about the dangers of exposure to harmful ultraviolet radiation and restricting use for our nation’s youth. Indoor tanning devices are not safe. Those who use sunbeds before age 35 increase their lifetime risk of melanoma, the deadliest type of skin cancer, by 59%.”

The FDA will make a final decision on its proposal after a 90-day comment period.

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