FDA starts to crack down on teens using tanning salons

GAITHERSBURG, MD (KTRE/AP) - There is no nationwide regulation governing the use of tanning salons by young people.  The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is looking to change that as scientists find that among those who do use the tanning beds the most are teenagers. The FDA is now cracking down on tanning salons, to better regulate the amount of time a teenager is allowed to tan.

Federal health experts say more restrictions are needed to protect teenagers from the cancer risks of tanning beds, including a potential ban for people under 18.

A Food and Drug Administration panel recommends the agency put tighter controls on artificial tanning, ranging from requiring parental consent forms to banning the practice in younger teens.

"Given the absence of any demonstrated benefit, I think it's an obligation for us to ban artificial tanning for those under 18," said panelist Dr. Michael Olding.

Other experts on the 16-member panel said the evidence is not strong enough to warrant a total ban.  The FDA is reviewing its tanning bed regulations after a recent analysis linked the devices to skin cancer.

The Indoor Tanning Association said its members advocate tanning in moderation and that parents are required to sign approval for teens.

Whatever new regulations the government considers, a 10 per cent tax on indoor tanning sessions will go into effect July 1st:  The tax will fund the new health care reform law.

For more than 20 years, the FDA has regulated tanning beds, but with new studies and a renewed push on safety, federal health regulators are considering new rules that could result in stiffer regulations.

Melanoma is the most deadly and the fastest growing form of skin cancer in the United States and the world, according to the Melanoma Research Foundation.

In January, a new law went into effect prohibiting anyone under age 18 to use a tanning bed without parental consent.  The FDA has found more than 70 percent of tanning salon owners have confessed that they don't limit how often teens tan.

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