Democrats urge FDA to act on tanning salons

February 22, 2012

Five congressional Democrats are urging the Food and Drug Administration to step up efforts to protect consumers - especially teenage girls - against the risks of indoor tanning

Washington - Five congressional Democrats are urging the Food and Drug Administration to step up efforts to protect consumers - especially teenage girls - against the risks of indoor tanning.

In

to FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg, M.D., Reps. Henry A. Waxman (D-Calif.), Diana DeGette (D-Colo.), Frank Pallone Jr. (D-N.J.), Rosa L. DeLauro (D-Conn.) and Carolyn B. Maloney (D-N.Y.) urged action on recommendations made more than two years ago by the FDA’s General and Plastic Surgery Devices Panel to protect consumers from serious cancer risks posed by the use of tanning beds.

In the letter, the members cite their recently released undercover staff investigation, which found that tanning salons target teenage girls with advertising and promotions, deny known risks of indoor tanning, provide false information on the benefits of tanning, and fail to follow FDA recommendations on tanning frequency, according to a committee press release.

“Indoor tanning beds present a serious risk of skin cancer, yet as our investigation demonstrates, they are not being properly regulated,” the letter states. “Your own expert panel reached a similar conclusion nearly two years ago. Nonetheless, these dangerous devices are still widely available to young people, and salons do not provide accurate warnings or guidance. We believe further delay is not in the interest of the health of teenage girls.”

The investigation cited in the letter involved Democratic staff of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, who phoned tanning salons nationwide posing as teenage girls seeking tanning sessions. The Los Angeles Times reported early this month that the results of these calls and a review of tanning salon advertising led the Democratic committee members to issue a report stating that the vast majority of salons investigated provided “false information about the serious risks of indoor tanning.”

It also noted that despite an FDA recommendation that indoor tanning be limited to no more than three visits in the first week, “three-quarters of tanning salons reported that they would permit first-time customers to tan daily.”

In response to the investigation, the Indoor Tanning Association issued a statement saying that most salons seek parental consent for customers under age 18. It also stated that if the callers had in fact visited the salons and were actually under age 18, “They and their parents would have had a more thorough conversation about the tanning process and the potential risks of overexposure.”

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