Municipal Government, New York

Schneiderman: Skin Cancer Risks of Indoor Tanning

August 21, 2016  
By John Quinn, LaborPress Albany

New York, NY – Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman has announced that Justice Alice Schlesinger of the New York Supreme Court approved a settlement with Total Tan, Inc., a New York Company that provides indoor tanning services at 25 locations across upstate New York and three locations in Pennsylvania.

The agreement resolves a lawsuit filed by the Attorney General in April 2015.  It prohibits Total Tan from making health misrepresentations and from failing to comply with New York State tanning regulations. 

Indoor tanning increases the risk of melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer – which is responsible for 9,000 deaths in the United States each year.  Indoor tanning also increases the risk of other skin cancers, such as basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma.  While usually not fatal, these skin cancers can cause noticeable disfigurement.  In addition to increasing the risk of skin cancer, UV exposure can also harm the immune system and cause premature skin aging.  New York State tanning law currently prohibits tanning for children under 17 and requires parental consent for children between the ages of 17 and 18.  Additionally, New York law requires that current tanning hazards information sheets and acknowledgement forms be distributed to tanning patrons and that free protective eyewear be made available to tanning patrons.  The Attorney General’s office has released a brochure on indoor tanning safety that provides important information on the risks and harms associated with UV tanning.

Despite the clear dangers of tanning, Total Tan’s website featured a number of claims that downplayed the inherent risks of indoor tanning, including representations that “the risks associated with UV light have been overstated and the benefits ignored” and that indoor tanning “is the smartest way to maximize the potential benefits of sun exposure while minimizing the potential risks.”  Total Tan also touted the purported health benefits of indoor tanning, including that indoor tanning is a good source of vitamin D and helps treat and prevent an array of diseases, including heart disease, asthma, cancer and Alzheimer’s disease.  These claims, which were not supported, led consumers to believe that indoor tanning is not only risk-free, but also contributes to improved health.  Indoor tanning is neither a safe nor a desirable way to obtain vitamin D or any other health benefits.  Vitamin D can safely be obtained through diet and supplements, so obtaining vitamin D through indoor tanning poses unnecessary risks.

August 20, 2016

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