Lawmakers: Tanning industry gives false information

February 15, 2012

Democrats on Capitol Hill have accused the indoor tanning industry of providing false and misleading information about the health risks of tanning bed use.

Washington - Democrats on Capitol Hill have accused the indoor tanning industry of providing false and misleading information about the health risks of tanning bed use.

The criticism follows an investigation in which Democratic staff of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, including college interns, called salons representing themselves as teenage girls considering getting tanning sessions for the first time, the Los Angeles Times reports. According to committee Democrats, calls to 300 salons nationwide and a review of advertising found that the vast majority provided “false information about the serious risks of indoor tanning and made specious claims about the health benefits that indoor tanning provides.”

Congress is pushing for the Food and Drug Administration to strengthen its regulation of the indoor tanning industry. The Times quotes Rep. Frank Pallone (D-N.J.), ranking member of the energy and commerce subcommittee on health, as saying, “Health risks are not being accurately relayed, while health benefits are being falsely claimed. Plain and simple, this is a public health issue that deserves the attention of our committee.”

The Times notes that John Overstreet, executive director, of the Indoor Tanning Association, says most salons, by law or through business practices, seek parental consent for customers younger than 18. The association issued a statement saying, “If those who were conducting the survey had actually visited a professional tanning salon and were indeed under 18, they and their parents would have had a more thorough conversation about the tanning process and the potential risks of overexposure.”

According to the Democrats’ report, nearly all salons contacted by investigators “denied the known risks of indoor tanning” and that despite the FDA’s 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.”

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