The U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Friday proposed a nationwide ban to prevent minors from using tanning beds — similar to a ban Connecticut already has in place.
The FDA issued two proposed rules, both outlined in a consumer update: one would ban minors under age 18 from using tanning beds, and the other would require manufacturers of tanning beds to implement further safety standards.
In October 2013, Connecticut became one of the first states in the country to ban indoor tanning bed use by minors under 17. Since then, U.S. Rep. Rosa L. DeLauro has advocated for a similar ban nationwide.
“The proposed rules by the FDA are critical for protecting the health of American children and adults,” DeLauro said in a statement Friday. “Indoor tanning beds can create devastating, lifelong health effects and we must do everything we can to ensure that consumers are fully aware of all the risks before they step into a tanning facility.”
She added: “For years I fought for these protections and I applaud the FDA for making a much-needed move to reduce the number of melanoma cases in our country each year and save lives.
DeLauro is a senior member of the federal Appropriations subcommittee that funds the FDA.
One distinction between the Connecticut ban and the FDA’s proposal is that tanning beds are banned for those under age 17, whereas the proposed nationwide ban would be for those under 18.
Typically, rules proposed by the FDA are open for a period of public comment before the FDA issues final rules.
In proposing the rules, the FDA cited “many risks” posed by indoor tanning beds, including exposure to ultraviolet radiation and increased risk of eye injury, skin damage, and skin cancer. The beds also increase users’ risk of melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, according to the FDA.
The FDA already requires that all tanning beds have a visible warning stating that they should not be used by people under 18.
“We know that the effects of exposure to UV radiation add up over one’s lifetime,” the FDA said in its consumer update. “That’s why the FDA now is proposing a rule to protect youth from the risks of these devices by restricting use only to adults age 18 and older.”
The rule also would require tanning facilities to inform adult users about indoor tanning’s health risks to and obtain a signed risk acknowledgment from users.
The second rule proposed by the FDA would mandate that tanning bed manufacturers take steps to improve safety.
Some of the proposed changes would: make warnings easier to read and more prominent; require an emergency shut-off switch, or “panic button;” limit the amount of light allowed through protective eyewear; and improve labeling on replacement lights to reduce the risk of accidental burns.
The FDA, citing Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data, said more than 3,000 emergency room visits each year nationwide are caused by injuries from tanning beds. More than 400 of those are individuals under age 18, data show.
Those exposed to radiation from indoor tanning are 59 percent more likely to develop melanoma than those who have never tanned indoors, according to the FDA consumer update.