Federal Trade Commission

Federal Trade Commission

The Federal Trade Commission is set to approve a final settlement with the Indoor Tanning Association regarding the false health and safety claims about tanning beds safety and benefits made by that organization.

In its advertising, the Indoor Tanning Association claimed:

  • Indoor tanning is approved by the government;
  • Indoor tanning is safer than tanning outdoors because the amount of UVR is monitored and controlled;
  • Vitamin D supplements can harm the body’s ability to fight disease; and
  • A National Academy of Sciences study found that “the risks of not getting enough ultraviolet light far outweigh the hypothetical risk of skin cancer.”

The settlement, agreed to by the Indoor Tanning Association, prohibits the Association

  • From making the misrepresentation challenged in the complaint; (See above.)
  • Misrepresenting any tests or studies; and
  • From providing any deceptive advertising to members.

In addition, the settlement also requires that future health and safety claims be substantiated and contain the disclosure that “Exposure to ultraviolet radiation may increase the likelihood of developing skin cancer and can cause serious eye damage.”

The agreement was arrived at on January 26 and was followed by a thirty day public comment period which ended February 26. The FTC will now decide whether to make the settlement final. We believe there is no doubt that that this will occur very shortly.

The Indoor Tanning Association has sought to portray itself as a David against the Goliath of government regulation. That’s not quite true. According to its own website, it’s a $5 billion industry.

Further, it has attempted to portray itself as a responsible business. However,  its own website continues to “denounce” proposed regulation that would ban minors from tanning. Similarly, in a message to members advising them how to respond to news reports of the dangers of tanning beds, the Association notes: “All human activity carries risk.”  It also challenges well-documented studies regarding the increase in melanoma by attributing it to “changes in diagnostic criteria.” (Of course, if this was the case, then the incidence of melanoma was far more widespread than previously believed.)

However, whatever claims the Association makes on its website, the charges in the complaint and the settlement, agreed to by the Indoor Tanning Association, tell its own story about its nature and character. In this instance, the Federal Trade Commission has acted wisely and appropriately.

Don’t use tanning beds. Tanning beds dangers are well documented.

Be safe. Be SunAWARE.

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