New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman is targeting violators of the state's tanning regulations, and Planet Fitness, Newington, NH, is on his list.
His office served a notice of intent to sue to Planet Fitness in an April 24 announcement that also included a notice to a tanning franchise and lawsuits against two other tanning franchises.
“Irresponsible businesses that seek to rake in profits by misleading the public about the safety of their services will be held accountable by my office,” Schneiderman said in a statement. “Advertising and marketing cannot be used as a tool to confuse and endanger New York consumers.”
Planet Fitness said in a statement that it is aware of the suit, which arose from a 2013 investigation during which Schneiderman’s office found five of the approximate 80 Planet Fitness franchise locations in New York at that time were “allegedly in violation of certain laws related to tanning services.”
"Since being notified of these alleged violations, Planet Fitness Corporate Headquarters has worked closely with all franchisees to emphasize the importance of following all applicable state laws,” the statement said. “Additionally, over the last year, Planet Fitness has been working with the Office of the Attorney General with regard to this matter, and we look forward to the opportunity to continue to work with their office in mutual good faith to reach a resolution."
The notice accuses Planet Fitness of four illegal acts and practices in New York, including:
- Failure to provide disclosures and safety requirements of state law.
- Promoting the use of “unlimited” tanning services.
- Using misbranded LED red lamp devices and misrepresenting the medical or health benefits of the unapproved Beauty Angel device in some locations.
- Failing to adequately train Planet Fitness employees who assist members in the use of tanning beds and red lamp devices.
The state is seeking to “obtain additional injunctive relief, restitution, penalties, damages, costs” or other relief the court deems “just and proper.”
The Attorney General's Office also filed lawsuits against Portofino Spas LLC and Total Tan Inc.
The lawsuit against Portofino alleges that Portofino did not post the state’s required warning sign near every tanning device as required 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 Food and Drug Administration requires all tanning devices to carry warning labels on the risks of ultraviolet radiation overexposure, though laws regulating tanning facilities vary by state.
The lawsuits allege Portofino and Total Tan made various statements on their websites and social media channels. Portofino questioned the link between ultraviolet rays and melanoma in one message. Total Tan touted a testimonial from a man who “survived” kidney cancer by treating it with tanning at one of their facilities.
Beach Bum Tanning Salons, which received a notice of intent to sue, allegedly claimed tanning appears to “retard or prevent” different forms of breast, colon, prostate and ovarian cancer.
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) calls indoor and outdoor tanning “dangerous.” The CDC says indoor tanning and the exposure to ultraviolet rays can cause skin cancers, cataracts and cancers of the eye.