New Bill to Help Prevent Tanning Bed Cancers

Jan 25, 2010
Press Release
New York, NY – On Monday, U.S. Reps. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) and Charlie Dent (R-PA) were joined by Cosmopolitan Magazine Editor-in-Chief Kate White, American Academy of Dermatology member Dr. Ellen Marmur, oncology nurse Rajni Kannan, and melanoma survivor and former Miss Maryland Brittany Lietz Cicala to announce Tuesday’s introduction in Congress of the Tanning Bed Cancer Control Act. This bill would expand federal regulation of tanning beds with the aim of limiting the amount of UV rays emitted by tanning beds and the time consumers may be exposed to harmful radiation. More information on the new bill follows. “Tanning beds are the cigarettes of our time: cancer-causing and poorly regulated,” said Rep. Maloney. “Those who use start using tanning beds before the age of 30 have a 75% higher risk of developing melanoma. Every hour, one American dies of this disease. Through education and improved regulation, we can save lives. I thank my friend and colleague Charlie Dent for joining me in introducing this legislation, and I applaud Kate White and her team at Cosmopolitan and the American Academy of Dermatology for their ongoing efforts to save Americans from the needless dangers posed by indoor tanning.”

“Melanoma is a devastating disease that has impacted many American families, including my own. But it is also a disease that is often preventable,” said Rep. Dent. “The World Health Organization confirms that tanning beds are a cause of cancer, and tanning bed users put themselves at a 75 percent higher risk of developing melanoma. This legislation will ensure that standards are updated to minimize risk, and that labels are positioned and worded to send a clear and prominent message about the real dangers associated with tanning.”

“At Cosmo, we’ve been warning our readers about the dangers of tanning for years. With research now showing that tanning beds are carcinogenic, it’s even more important to educate consumers about the risks and ensure proper safeguards are in place,” said Kate White. “We’re proud to support Carolyn Maloney’s and Charlie Dent’s important legislation, which will curb skin cancer rates caused by tanning bed exposure. We look forward to seeing it signed into law.”

In July 2009, the World Health Organization raised the classification of the use of UV-emitting tanning devices to Group 1, “carcinogenic to humans.” This new carcinogen classification placed tanning beds alongside tobacco, asbestos and uranium as a definite cause of cancer.

Cosmopolitan Magazine has been a longtime advocate for skin safety. Alarmed by the high rate of skin cancer among young women, Cosmo launched the “Practice Safe Sun” campaign in 2006, with ongoing educational editorial and events. Cosmo was also one of the lead supporters of the Tanning Accountability and Notification (TAN) Act, which was signed into law in September 2007. Most recently, the magazine conducted a joint undercover investigation with ABC’s 20/20 into how tanning salons deceive customers about the health risks.

Background on the bill:

On Tuesday, Reps. Maloney and Dent will introduce the Tanning Bed Cancer Control Act, which will address tanning bed safety by expanding the FDA’s regulation over tanning beds—ultimately limiting the strength of the UV rays emitted from the tanning bed’s sunlamp and the amount of time a consumer may be exposed. The legislation will address two sides of regulation: device classification (for tanning beds that have yet to enter the market for consumer use) and performance standards (for tanning beds that are currently in circulation).

Device Classification: Tanning beds are currently listed by the FDA as Class I medical devices, characterized as posing minimal potential harm to users. Other examples of Class I medical devices are Band-Aids, tongue depressors, breast pumps, and latex gloves. Rep. Maloney’s legislation will ask the FDA to reexamine the classification of tanning beds to ensure that it accurately reflects their technology and associated risks. (Note: a higher classification would make all newly developed devices subject to pre-market surveillance and evaluation.)

Performance Standards: Performance standards regulate the use of tanning beds including the strength of the UV rays emitted from the lamp and the recommended amount of time a consumer should remain in the tanning bed. The standards that govern tanning bed use have not been updated since 1985—despite significant advances in technology over the last 25 years. In a December 2008 report to Congress, the FDA acknowledged that these standards are in need of a contemporary assessment. Rep. Maloney’s legislation will empower the FDA to act upon its own report's suggestion to review and update these performance standards in the interest of consumer health.