FDA Narrows In on Teen Tanning

Tanning bed age restrictions, other safety measures proposed by FDA

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Jennifer Gershman, PharmD, CPh

(RxWiki News) If the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has its way, teens nationwide will be banned from using tanning beds.

On Friday, the FDA announced some newly proposed rules to restrict the use of tanning beds and related products among minors. Indoor tanning known to significantly increase the risk of skin cancer, including melanoma — its most deadly form.

The proposed rule would restrict the use of all indoor tanning products, including tanning beds, to people age 18 and older.

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

The new restrictions are also intended to reduce the risks of indoor tanning among adults. Under the proposed rule, adults age 18 and older would be required to sign a "risk acknowledgement" form before their first tanning session and every six months thereafter, stating that they have been informed of the potential health risks of indoor tanning.

According to the American Academy of Dermatology, people who have been exposed to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from indoor tanning are nearly 60 percent more likely to develop melanoma than those who have never tanned indoors. The effects of UV exposure also add up over a person's lifetime. That means exposure in adolescence can put teens at a greater risk for skin and eye damage later in life.

The FDA also proposed a rule that would require manufacturers of indoor tanning products to implement more safety restrictions. The proposed changes include making warnings easier to read on the devices, requiring emergency shut-off switches and adding restrictions to the amount of light allowed through protective eyewear used during tanning.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, an estimated 3,000 visits to the ER for injuries related to indoor tanning occur each year in the US.

Dr. Ostroff said that, while the FDA understands that some adults may still decide to continue to tan indoors, the proposed rules are meant to help adults make informed decisions and to ensure that manufacturers and tanning facilities make indoor tanning as safe as possible.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) is one of many organizations to applaud the FDA for its action on Friday, noting that "there is no safe level of tanning bed use for young people, [and] children will be safer and healthier for it."

"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," said AAP President Sandra G. Hassink, MD, in a press release. "Pediatricians welcome the 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."

There are currently about 35,000 indoor tanning salons and other facilities like spas that offer indoor tanning in the US, the FDA reports.

Review Date: 
December 18, 2015
Last Updated:
December 18, 2015