FDA Seeks Nationwide Ban on Letting Minors Use Tanning Beds

Eleven states already ban minors from using tanning beds, and most states have other restrictions such as requiring a parent's permission.

If the FDA gets its way, prom season will be paler in more parts of the country.

The agency seeks to bar teens under 18 from using indoor tanning beds under proposed rules that aim to reduce skin cancer, especially among young women.

Two proposed rules issued today would restrict use of “sunlamp products” to those age 18 or older; those who use tanning beds would have to sign a waiver every 6 months acknowledging they understand the health risks.

According the National Conference of State Legislatures, 11 states and the District of Columbia already have similar bans, and 42 other states have restrictions for youth such as requiring a parent’s permission or limiting the type of exposure.

CDC reports more than 3000 emergency room visits a year for injuries from tanning bed use, according to this morning’s announcement from FDA.

An article in JAMA Dermatology in September 2014 called for changes in the way Americans are screened for skin cancer, and the authors said melanoma rates are higher for women than men in the 15-to-49 age group because more women use tanning beds than men. The American Cancer Society said 9438 deaths were attributed to melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, in 2013.

That article appeared shortly after then-Acting US Surgeon General Boris Lusniak issued a call to arms over rising skin cancer rates, which he said are almost entirely preventable if Americans stop associating tanned skin with health and instead realize that tanned skin is damaged skin.

FDA’s proposed rule would require that sunlamp manufacturers and commercial tanning facilities take steps to improve safety, including:

· Making warnings easier to read

· Requiring a “panic button” that shuts off the bed

· Improving eye safety by upgrading protective eyewear

· Improving safety and labeling on bulbs to reduce burns, and improving reporting requirements to FDA

“The FDA understands that some adults may decide to continue to reduce sunlamp products,” said acting FDA Commissioner Stephen Ostroff, MD, “The 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.”

Restrictions would apply to manufacturers and tanning facility operators. The FDA states this would cover between 18,000 and 19,000 indoor tanning salons and between 15,000 and 20,000 other facilities, such as health clubs and spas that include tanning as part of their services.

FDA will accept comment on the proposed rule for 90 days.