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FDA’s Proposal would Ban Minors from Indoor Tanning

Update Date: Dec 18, 2015 03:45 PM EST

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced a proposal that would ban teenagers younger than 18 from using tanning beds.

"We know that adolescents are a primarily vulnerable population," said Vasum Peiris, chief medical officer of pediatrics and special populations in the FDA's Center for Devices and Radiological Health, reported by The Washington Post. "We want to make sure they are protected from this, and that's why we're taking the actions we are today."

"Today's action is intended to help protect young people from a known and preventable cause of skin cancer and other harms," acting FDA Commissioner Stephen Ostroff said in a statement. "Individuals under 18 are at greatest risk of the adverse health consequences of indoor tanning."

The proposal did not only focus on minors. People of age who want to indoor tan for the firs time would have to sign a form that clearly states they understand about the risks and dangers involved. The form would have to be signed every six months afterwards.

The proposal is also asking manufacturers of these sunbeds to make improvements. Some of these updates include clearer and more obvious warning labels, a panic button that would turn off the machine in emergency situations, and more.

"The FDA understands that some adults may decide to continue to use sunlamp products," Ostroff continued. "These proposed rules are meant to help adults make their decisions based on truthful information and to ensure manufacturers and tanning facilities take additional steps to improve the safety of these devices."

The proposal falls in line with the International Agency for Research on Cancer's recommendations. The agency is a part of the United Nations' health agency, the World Health Organization (WHO).

About an average of 3,000 people visit the emergency room in the U.S. due to an injury related to indoor tanning. An estimated total of 1.6 million minors use tanning beds every year, the FDA added.

The American Academy of Dermatology reported that indoor tanning can increase risk of melanoma, which is the deadliest form of skin caner, by 59 percent. The academy stressed that with every use, the risk of developing skin cancer in general increases.

"Dermatologists are extremely pleased that the federal government has recognized the inherent dangers of indoor tanning and is following the lead of the 42 states that have already enacted tanning bed restrictions to potentially reduce this risk," the American Academy of Dermatology said in a statement, the New York Times reported.

The FDA has taken a stance before on indoor tanning. In 2013, the federal agency recommended minors to avoid using tanning bed. They did not decide to ban it at the time.

The Indoor Tanning Association has spoken out against government involvement. The association stated that a minor's choice to use tanning beds should decided between the minor and his/her parent and not the government.

Public comment on the proposal will be opened for 90 days.

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