Require More Visible Warning Labels for Tanning Beds

Target: Center for Devices and Radiological Health, FDA

Goal: Require tanning beds to have warning labels directly on them to inform users of cancer risks

The FDA has proposed that tanning beds be required to come with labels that warn about the cancer risks of tanning. Unfortunately, the labels would not have to stay on the tanning beds during consumer use, making the warning ineffective. Urge the FDA to amend its proposal about tanning beds to mandate that the labels stay on during the time consumers use the beds.

Melanoma, a skin cancer caused by UV rays, is the second most common form of cancer among young adults. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, an estimated 2.3 million U.S. teenagers tan indoors each year. The correlation between these two statistics is no surprise given that the risk of melanoma is 75 percent higher for those who have gone indoor tanning even once.

The FDA proposal is an important one, as tanning beds currently come with no warning whatsoever, but it is not enough. Diana Zuckerman of the National Research Center for Women and Families reveals the problem: “The FDA is requiring that the labels and pamphlets include risk information about skin cancer, but consumers would not be required to see those labels or pamphlets — they are apparently only for the company buying the tanning bed.” It is hard to imagine that those who purchase and provide tanning beds will want to give people information that may scare them away from using their product. If the owner of the salon chooses to not provide the information, the people who are putting themselves at risk will not receive the warning. This makes the warning ineffective.

There is a simple solution to this – by providing the warning label on the actual tanning bed, much like warning labels are printed on cigarette cartons, it guarantees that the consumer has access to it. The FDA has not formed a final regulation, meaning that it is still taking suggestions on the bill. Urge the FDA to require that the warning labels be posted on the tanning beds at all times.


Dear Center for Devices and Radiological Health,

Your proposal to include warning labels with tanning beds is an admirable one. Unfortunately, those who purchase the tanning beds and then provide their services for the public are not required to display these labels. Given that they are trying to make money and not lose customers, it seems likely that salon owners will not place the labels on the tanning beds. It is important that the warnings of cancer risk are visible to consumers, as they should be informed of the risk they are taking.

The need for this warning is paramount – studies show that one tanning session makes individuals 75 percent more likely to develop cancer. An estimated 2.3 million teens use tanning beds each year. Your proposal has not been finalized yet, so you still have time to add an amendment that mandates putting the warning label on the actual tanning bed. Please protect consumers – require that tanning beds have warning labels.


[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: mag3737 via Flickr

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