Citing Cancer Risks, Maloney Calls For Nationwide Tanning Bed Ban For Minors

Jun 30, 2014
Press Release

Press Contact: Mike Morosi (202) 225-7944

Maloney bill requiring warning labels on tanning beds goes into effect but the Congresswoman calls for more protections for minors

NEW YORK – Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney (NY-12) is calling on the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to ban the use of tanning beds by those under 18 years old.  The congresswoman succeeded in having warning labels added to the machines, but believes more protections are necessary for minors.  

“Every tanning bed will soon have a warning label on it that says it should not be used by those under 18 years old,” said Maloney. “If it’s not safe, why do we allow it at all? I’ve met too many young women who have stage 3 melanomas. They were told these machines would help them look and feel healthy, but they were really being told to lie down in a cancer coffin. We ban cigarettes for those under 18. We ought to ban these devices too.”

According to the National Conference of State Legislatures only 9 states have bans for minors, 18 states allow a person of any age to use a tanning bed and many of those states don’t even require parental permission. Maloney believes a universal nationwide law is needed. In the last four decades, melanoma incidence increased 800 percent among young women—while at the same time the rates of other cancers are going down—and exposure to UV radiation from indoor tanning beds significantly increases the occurrence of this deadly cancer.

“Approximately 2.3 million teens tan indoors in the United States every year,” said Jessica J. Krant, MD, MPH, a dermatologist who practices in New York.  “Yet the science about the dangers of indoor tanning is clear. The risk of developing melanoma increases by 59 percent for individuals who have been exposed to UV radiation from indoor tanning, and the risk increases with each use.”

Shari Lipner, MD, PhD, a dermatologist at NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center, voiced support for the Congresswoman and this important cause. “I see the devastating effects of tanning on young adults, especially young women, as a practicing dermatologist. Efforts to educate people about reducing the risk of skin cancer and restrict the use of indoor tanning beds are critically important in fighting this disease.”  

Jennifer Stein, MD., PH.D., of NYU Langone Medical Center and Joshua D. Zuckerman. MD., New York Plastic Surgery Group was also in attendance to support the Congresswoman and this very important cause.

Maloney’s letter to the FDA follows:

June 27, 2014

Dr. Margaret Hamburg
U.S. Food and Drug Administration
10903 New Hampshire Avenue
Silver Spring, MD 20993

Dear Dr. Hamburg:

Thank you for your efforts to safeguard young Americans from exposure to Ultraviolet (UV) radiation. I write with continued concerns about the dangers posed by tanning beds and the need to protect American children from skin cancer. I strongly support FDA’s recent decision to require black box warning labels on tanning beds. However, I believe it is time for FDA to consider adopting age limits and other restrictions on the use of these devices by minors.

At the same time as incidence rates for other cancers are decreasing, melanoma and skin cancer are among of the fastest-growing cancers in America. Skin cancers are now the second most common form of cancer for young women age 15 to 29. According to a report published in January 2014 by JAMA Dermatology, over 419,000 cases of skin cancer and about 900 cases of melanomacan be attributed to indoor tanning--an activity that increases the risk of melanoma by 59 percent.

Like your agency, I am particularly concerned about the effect of tanning bed use on young Americans. Each year, two to three million teens under 18 use tanning beds, and according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention 23.4 percent of female high school students use tanning beds each year. Young women are a particularly important group to target for intervention since over the past four decades, melanoma incidence has increased 800 percent among this group, and we know exposure to UV radiation from indoor tanning beds significantly increases the occurrence of this deadly cancer.

In May, I was heartened that the FDA finalized the reclassification of UV tanning bed lamps as Class II medical devices and included as a special control a black box warning against the use of these devices by people under 18. While the black box warning labels are an important first step, we need continued evaluation to determine whether additional controls are necessary to protect the health of young Americans.

As you know, in March 2010 the FDA General and Plastic Surgery Devices Panel met to consider questions posed by the FDA about the carcinogenic effects of tanning lamps. At the meeting, the majority of the panel favored an age restriction for the use of tanning beds because evidence suggests young people are often more vulnerable to the negative impacts of indoor tanning. In response to this evidence, nine states have already acted to restrict the use of tanning beds for minors, and others have regulations to provide for parental consent before a child can use these devices.

In your continuing efforts to promote the health and safety of children and teens, I hope you will adopt the recommendations of the panel to consider additional controls on dangerous tanning lamps, including age restrictions.

Thank you again for your attention to this important health concern.




Member of Congress


Last year, Rep. Maloney formed the Congressional Skin Cancer Caucus, which she co-chairs with Reps. Charles Dent (R-PA), Jim Cooper (D-TN), and Peter Roskam (R-IL), in an effort to bring greater attention on Capitol Hill and to the public at large about this public health crisis.

Maloney’s TAN Act, which passed as part of the FDA Amendments Act of 2007, required the FDA to study the efficacy of warning labels for tanning beds and began the process that led to this reclassification of UV tanning lamps as Class II medical devices, which was finalized in May 2014.

Under the new classification, the FDA will now require black box warning labels on all tanning beds, indicating that the products should not be used by those under the age of 18. Manufacturers will also be required to include additional warnings in their marketing materials and show that their products meet performance testing requirements.

This reclassification was the culmination of a years-long effort by Rep. Maloney. In the 111th and 112th Congresses, Reps. Maloney and Charles Dent (D-PA) introduced the Tanning Bed Cancer Control Act, which would have required the FDA to study the classification of tanning