Congressional Skin Cancer Caucus Urges Rule Restricting Tanning Bed Use to Adults 18 and Over

Dec 12, 2017
Press Release

WASHINGTON, DC—Today, Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney (NY-12) and Congressman Charles W. Dent (PA-15), Co-Chairs of the Congressional Skin Cancer Caucus, asked FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, MD for an update on the agency’s proposed rule to restrict use of tanning beds to adults 18 and older. The World Health Organization's International Agency of Research on Cancer has declared UV radiation from the sun and artificial sources, such as tanning beds and sun lamps, to be a known carcinogen.

“Tanning beds are a serious health threat, particularly for young women,” said Rep. Maloney. “We’ve known for years that they give our children cancer, and it’s long past time we do something about it. If you need to be 18 to buy a cigarette, you should have to be 18 to use a tanning bed.”

“Our responsibility, both as parents and legislators, is to ensure our young people have ample protection from harmful substances,” said Rep. Dent. “In this instance, tanning beds are a key source of UV radiation, and they represent a real health hazard to the young men and women using them. By setting the age restriction to 18, the FDA would simply be setting a standard of use already used for cigarette purchases.”

In the letter, the members asked the Commissioner:

  • Does the FDA plan to finalize the proposed rule, and if so when?
  • If not, are you planning to propose a new rule to restrict the use of tanning beds to individuals 18 years and older?

Full text of the letter is below and a PDF can be found here.

Dear Commissioner Gottlieb:

We write to request an update on the status of FDA’s 2015 proposed rule, General and Plastic Surgery Devices: Restricted Sale, Distribution, and Use of Sunlamp Products (RIN 0910-AH14). This rule, establishing a federal standard restricting the use of tanning beds to individuals age 18 and older, would be a tremendous step toward protecting young Americans from the harms of Ultraviolet (UV) radiation and curbing the rise of skin cancer.

As Co-chairs of the Congressional Skin Cancer Caucus, we are deeply concerned about the dangers posed by tanning beds and the need to protect American children from skin cancer. The World Health Organization's International Agency of Research on Cancer has declared UV radiation from the sun and artificial sources, such as tanning beds and sun lamps, to be a known carcinogen. Using indoor tanning beds before age 35 can increase one’s risk of melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, by 59 percent. Researchers estimate that each year indoor tanning may cause upwards of 400,000 cases of skin cancer in the U.S. and lead to a total economic cost of $343.1 million.

Even as overall cancer rates decline, rates of skin cancer in this country continue to rise, particularly among young women. Melanoma is the second most common cancer in females age 15-29. Young women make up 70 percent of the tanning population, and nearly one third of tanners start tanning before the age of 18. It is vital that the FDA take action to restrict the age limit of tanning beds to 18 years and older.

As you know, on March 21, 2016 the comment period closed for FDA’s proposed tanning bed rule. In March 2016, we wrote to your predecessor with a bipartisan group of Representatives, urging the FDA to finalize the rule as soon as possible. The rule has not yet been finalized.

Given the paramount importance of an age restriction on tanning beds to the safety of our children, we would like to know the status of the proposed rule, specifically addressing the following questions:

  • Does the FDA plan to finalize the proposed rule, and if so when?
  • If not, are you planning to propose a new rule to restrict the use of tanning beds to individuals 18 years and older?

Thank you for your attention to this important health concern. We look forward to your response.

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