FDA NewsPerspective

FDA proposes tanning bed age restrictions, safety measures

The FDA today announced proposed rules in the use of sunlamp products that include restricting tanning bed use to individuals aged 18 years and older.

The agency also is proposing that before their first tanning session, and every six months thereafter, adults over the age for 18 would be required to sign a risk acknowledgment certification “that states that they have been informed of the risks to health that may result from use of sunlamp products,” according to a press release.

“Today’s action is intended to help protect young people from a known and preventable cause of skin cancer and other harms,” acting FDA Commissioner Stephen Ostroff, MD, said in the release. “Individuals under 18 years are at greatest risk of the adverse health consequences of indoor tanning.”

While indoor tanning is a known contributor to skin cancer, including melanoma, there are 1.6 million minors who use indoor tanning each year, according to the release.

A second proposed rule would require that sunlamp manufactures and tanning facilities include additional measure to improve overall safety of the devices, according to the release. These include making warnings easier to read and more prominent on the device, requiring an emergency shut off switch or “panic button,” limiting the amount of light allowed through protective eyewear; improving labeling on replacement bulbs to reduce the risk of accidental burns; and prohibiting device modifications, including installing stronger bulbs without going through the FDA rectification process.

“The FDA understands that some adults may decide to continue to use sunlamp products,” Ostroff said in the release. “These proposed rules are meant to help adults make their decisions based on truthful information and to ensure manufactures and tanning facilities take additional steps to improve the safety of these devices.”

The proposed restrictions would apply to manufactures and tanning facility operators, according to the release. In the United States, there are 18,000 to 19,000 indoor tanning salons and 15,000 to 20,000 other facilities, including health clubs, that offer tanning services, the release reported.

The rules are available for public comment for 90 days at www.regulations.gov, with comments being accepted beginning Dec. 21.

Reference: www.fda.gov

The FDA today announced proposed rules in the use of sunlamp products that include restricting tanning bed use to individuals aged 18 years and older.

The agency also is proposing that before their first tanning session, and every six months thereafter, adults over the age for 18 would be required to sign a risk acknowledgment certification “that states that they have been informed of the risks to health that may result from use of sunlamp products,” according to a press release.

“Today’s action is intended to help protect young people from a known and preventable cause of skin cancer and other harms,” acting FDA Commissioner Stephen Ostroff, MD, said in the release. “Individuals under 18 years are at greatest risk of the adverse health consequences of indoor tanning.”

While indoor tanning is a known contributor to skin cancer, including melanoma, there are 1.6 million minors who use indoor tanning each year, according to the release.

A second proposed rule would require that sunlamp manufactures and tanning facilities include additional measure to improve overall safety of the devices, according to the release. These include making warnings easier to read and more prominent on the device, requiring an emergency shut off switch or “panic button,” limiting the amount of light allowed through protective eyewear; improving labeling on replacement bulbs to reduce the risk of accidental burns; and prohibiting device modifications, including installing stronger bulbs without going through the FDA rectification process.

“The FDA understands that some adults may decide to continue to use sunlamp products,” Ostroff said in the release. “These proposed rules are meant to help adults make their decisions based on truthful information and to ensure manufactures and tanning facilities take additional steps to improve the safety of these devices.”

The proposed restrictions would apply to manufactures and tanning facility operators, according to the release. In the United States, there are 18,000 to 19,000 indoor tanning salons and 15,000 to 20,000 other facilities, including health clubs, that offer tanning services, the release reported.

The rules are available for public comment for 90 days at www.regulations.gov, with comments being accepted beginning Dec. 21.

Reference: www.fda.gov

    Perspective
    Sandra G. Hassink

    Sandra G. Hassink

    The American Academy of Pediatrics applauds the FDA for proposing today to prohibit the use of tanning beds by children under 18, bringing national policy in line with the 16 states and numerous cities and counties that have passed similar restrictions on tanning bed use by children. There is no safe level of tanning bed use for young people.

    In its 2011 policy statement on UV radiation exposure, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) called for strong policies to eliminate the use of tanning beds by children under 18, and today, the FDA turned AAP policy into action. Children will be safer and healthier for it. 

    Exposure to ultraviolent radiation causes skin cancer, and tanning beds are designed to directly expose the skin to radiation in amounts several times greater than that provided by natural sunlight. In fact, studies show that beginning tanning before age 35 can increase the risk of developing melanoma, the most deadly form of skin cancer, by 75%. Alarmingly, the earlier a teen begins to tan indoors, the more hours of UV exposure he or she will accumulate over a lifetime, increasing the chances of developing melanoma and other skin cancers.

    Despite what we know about the dangers of tanning beds, their use among teenagers continues to rise, with 2014 survey data finding that 17% of adolescents in the United States had artificially tanned at least once in their lifetimes. Tanning is glamorized in the media and has been touted as providing false medical benefits such as safely boosting vitamin D levels. Tanning salons currently open their doors and promote their services to teenagers under age 18, contributing to a false sense of safety and appeal in artificial tanning.

    The FDA’s action today is part of ensuring a safe environment for every child and adolescent, and sends a loud and clear message: tanning beds are dangerous and should not be used by anyone under age 18. Pediatricians welcome FDA’s action and will continue to urge parents and our young patients to protect their skin from ultraviolet radiation and to avoid tanning beds altogether.

    • Sandra G. Hassink, MD, FAAP
    • president, American Academy of Pediatrics