Reps. Maloney and Dent introduce bipartisan bill to help prevent tanning bed cancers

May 3, 2011
Press Release
WASHINGTON, DC – Reps. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), and Charles Dent (R-PA) introduced a bipartisan bill, “The Tanning Bed Cancer Control Act” (H.R. 1676), which would update federal regulation of tanning beds with the aim of limiting the amount of UV rays emitted by tanning beds and the period of time consumers may be exposed to harmful radiation. “Tanning beds are where cigarettes were in the 1950s: everyone knows they’re cancer-causing, and yet they are poorly regulated,” said Rep. Maloney. “Every year, almost 70,000 new cases of skin cancer are diagnosed, and 8,700 Americans die of the disease. Since the World Health Organization has reclassified tanning devices as ‘carcinogenic to humans,’ it’s time for the FDA to reexamine its classification of the devices—and that’s what this bill requires—because doing so will help save lives.”

“Although Melanoma is often preventable, American families continue to lose loved ones to this destructive form of skin cancer,” said Rep. Dent. “While many Americans are aware of the dangers associated with Melanoma and take precautionary steps to prevent developing the disease, we must continue to educate the public about risks associated with too much exposure to UV light, especially from tanning beds. Our legislation ensures tanning bed standards are updated to minimize risk, and labels are positioned and worded to send a clear and prominent message about the real dangers associated with tanning.”

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

The FDA acknowledged in a 2008 report to Congress that tanning bed standards are in need of a contemporary assessment. The Maloney-Dent 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.

The legislation addresses 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.


View a copy of the legislation here.