FDA Panel Advises No Tanning Beds for Minors

FDA advisory panel agrees on banning tanning beds for children under 18.

ByABC News
March 25, 2010, 5:43 PM

March 25, 2010— -- Minors could be barred from indoor tanning and a registry could be required to monitor the use of tanning beds by salons if the U.S. Food and Drug Administration heeds advice from a panel it convened to review the classification of tanning beds.

Ultraviolet, or UV, lamps for tanning currently are considered class I medical devices by the FDA, which means they are subject to relatively few regulations.

The FDA could boost tanning beds either to a class II or class III medical device -- a change that would mean stricter regulation. Among the new rules could be a prohibition of devices containing mirrors that amplify the power of UV exposure.

A few members of the FDA panel dissented on the under-18 ban. They agreed with the sentiment of a ban, but thought it would be unrealistic to implement a ban and would be better to require strong warnings and parental notification.

More than 30 million people tan indoors every year, and nearly three quarters of them are women between ages 16 and 29, according to the Journal of American Dermatology.

Using a tanning bed before the age of 35 increases the risk of melanoma -- the deadliest form of skin cancer -- by 75 percent, according to the Melanoma Research Foundation.

Skin cancer is one of the few cancers for which a preventative option exists, said Dr. Allen Halpern, vice president of The Skin Cancer Foundation, who testified at the panel meeting.

Tanning salon businesses, one of the many industries hard hit by the recession, are already feeling the heat with the passage of the Obama administration's new health care bill. The bill includes a 10 percent tax on individuals receiving indoor tanning services, and the initiative is expected to generate $2.7 billion over 10 years to help fund the health care overhaul.

The Indoor Tanning Association, a Washington-based trade group, estimated the tax would hit 18,000 retail businesses nationwide, "harming these companies and jeopardizing the thousands of jobs they generate."