*The following is excerpted from an online article from USA Today.
Tanning beds will be off limits for teenagers and children if the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has its way.
Proposed regulations by the FDA would ban children under 18 from patronizing indoor tanning facilities and would require adult customers to sign strongly-worded new consent forms every six months.The FDA says tanning beds and sun lamps can cause skin cancer, burns and eye damage.
The public has 90 days to comment on the new rules. After that, the FDA could make them official.
"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 said in a statement. "Individuals under 18 years are at greatest risk of the adverse health consequences of indoor tanning."
The proposed regulations also require new safety features, including easier-to-read warnings and emergency shut-off "panic buttons."
Medical groups immediately applauded the aggressive moves, which come about 18 months after the FDA put new warning labels on the devices used by millions of people each year at tens of thousands of tanning salons, health clubs and other facilities. About 1.6 million of those users are minors, FDA said.
Indoor tanners are 59% more likely than non-users to develop melanoma, the most dangerous form of skin cancer, according to the American Academy of Dermatology.
The proposed rules are "a monumental step to protect the public's health," said academy president Mark Lebwohl. The American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network said the changes would reduce skin cancer cases and save lives. The American Academy of Pediatrics said the proposal "sends a loud and clear message: tanning beds are dangerous and should not be used by anyone under age 18."
"Fifteen or 20 years ago, it was very unusual to see someone their 30s with a melanoma, and now we constantly see women in their late teens and 20s with melanoma and almost all of them have an extensive tanning bed history," said Darrell Rigel, a clinical professor of dermatology at New York University. The tanning ban on minors could prevent many such cases in the future, he said.
"This is a free country, so as an adult, you can make these decisions, just as you can choose to smoke," Rigel said. "But minors need to be protected."
The Indoor Tanning Association, representing many tanning bed manufacturers and salon owners, said in a statement that the proposed rules are unneeded: "The indoor tanning industry is heavily regulated at both the federal and state levels and our customers are well aware of the potential risks of over exposure." The group said that "the decision regarding whether or not a teen suntans, whether indoors or outside, is a decision for his/her parents, not the government."