Indoor Tanning Businesses Continue to Face Regulatory Pressure

Indoor tanning can cause skin cancers including melanoma, basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and can cause cataracts and cancers of the eye, according to the CDC. (Photo by Thinkstock.)

Club Industry has covered regulatory actions related to indoor tanning in the last few years, including New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman's litigation against some businesses for alleged illegal practices. Planet Fitness was one of those businesses, and it settled with Schneiderman's office in November 2015.

However, a suit from Schneiderman against Portofino Spas is still pending, although it could be resolved "soon," lawyers for the business told in a report published July 18. The story takes an in-depth look at tanning regulation in America and the scrutiny tanning businesses are facing.

The lawsuit against Portofino alleges that Portofino did not post the state’s required warning sign near every tanning device and falsely advertised health benefits of indoor tanning. It also alleges Portofino required patrons to pay for protective eyewear. New York state law requires free protective eyewear be made available at tanning facilities and requires tanning hazards information sheets and acknowledgement forms be distributed to tanning patrons.

The lawsuit alleges Portofino made various statements on its website and social media channels,including one message that questioned the link between ultraviolet rays and melanoma. 

From the story:

Robert Swetnick, an attorney with Eaton & Van Winkle in New York and the salon chain’s outside counsel of several years, said that two New York judges have suggested that Portofino was entitled to free speech when it made health claims. In an interview, Swetnick asserted that Portofino stopped making health claims when the AG’s office notified the company that these were an advertising violation. “Our biggest concern is that the AG did this purely for publicity,” Swetnick says. “I think it’s for his political future.” Schneiderman, through a spokesman, responded that his decision to pursue the case was based “solely on its merits and the facts of the law.”

Much of the story profiles the relationship between litigation and advertising claiming the health benefits of tanning. There are more than 200 salons and retailers across the country making health claims related to tanning, according to the report.

“If you talk about it as a cosmetic kind of thing, fine, but the minute you start talking about health benefits, it’s problematic,” Schneiderman's health bureau chief, Lisa Landau, told

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states on its website that indoor tanning is "not safe." The website describes what it says are the dangers of indoor tanning. Indoor tanning can cause skin cancers including melanoma, basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and can cause cataracts and cancers of the eye, according to the CDC.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued two proposed rules related to indoor tanning bed use in December 2015. 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. Public comment on both the proposed rules closed earlier this year.

Brazil and Australia have banned indoor tanning, and Austria, Belgium, Finland, France, Germany, Iceland, Italy, Norway, Portugal, Spain, and the United Kingdom have banned indoor tanning for people younger than age 18, according to the CDC.

Because some health club operators offer tanning at their facilities, these cases affect the fitness industry, too. What do you think about these cases? Share your thoughts in the comment section below. 


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