There are approximately 18000 to 19000 indoor tanning salons and 15000 to 20000 other facilities such as health clubs that offer tanning services in the United States according to the FDA Photo by Thinkstock

There are approximately 18,000 to 19,000 indoor tanning salons and 15,000 to 20,000 other facilities, such as health clubs, that offer tanning services in the United States, according to the FDA. (Photo by Thinkstock).

FDA Proposes Indoor Tanning Ban for Minors

The FDA proposed rules to restrict sunlamp use to adults and require manufacturers to improve device safety.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued two proposed rules related to indoor tanning bed use on Friday.

One proposal would restrict the use of sunlamp products to individuals 18 and older. The other proposal would require sunlamp manufacturers and tanning facilities take additional measures to improve safety of the devices.

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

Public comment on the proposed rules begins Dec. 21 on Regulations.gov for a 90-day period. A deadline for enacting the proposed rules is not in place.

In addition to banning the use of sunlamp products to minors, adult users would have to sign a risk acknowledgement certification stating they have been informed of health risks related to sunlamp product use.

Some of the key proposed changes for manufacturers would include:

  • Making warnings easier to read and more prominent on the device;
  • Requiring an emergency shut off switch, or 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," Ostroff said. "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."

There are approximately 18,000 to 19,000 indoor tanning salons and 15,000 to 20,000 other facilities, such as health clubs, spas and other commercial establishments, that offer tanning services in the United States., according to the FDA.

Approximately 1.6 million minors indoor tan each year, according to a 2013 National Risk Behavior Survey. The Indoor Tanning Association (ITA) said teen suntan use is a decision for parents, not government, in a statement provided to USA Today.

"The indoor tanning industry is heavily regulated at both the federal and state levels, and our customers are well aware of the potential risks of over exposure," the ITA said.

California, Delaware, District of Columbia, Hawaii, Illinois, Louisiana, Minnesota, Nevada, Oregon, Texas, Vermont and Washington have banned the use of tanning beds by minors, as have local jurisdictions in other states, according to the American Cancer Society.

More than 419,000 cases of skin cancer in the United States each year are linked to indoor tanning, according to the Skin Cancer Foundation. More than 3,200 people go to an emergency room each year due to injuries sustained from indoor tanning, according to a 2014 study by the Journal of the American Medical Association.

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