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FDA: Companies must Add Warning Labels for Tanning Beds

Update Date: May 30, 2014 01:51 PM EDT

Despite evidence that the excessive use of tanning beds can increase one's risk of skin cancer, teens and adults continue to risk their health in order to achieve the "perfect glow." In a new effort to discourage people from using these booths, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has drafted new warnings for tanning beds and sun lamps.

"It's huge," said Dr. Eleni Linos, an assistant professor of dermatology at the University of California, San Francisco reported by the New York Times. "We've been trying to get the F.D.A. to change its rules both on labeling and classification of tanning beds for a really long time. It indicates the F.D.A. is finally taking into account the evidence that tanning beds are dangerous."

According to the new guidelines, manufacturers of sun lamps and other related products must now include a black box warning that discourages minors under 18-years-old from using these devices. Products advertised in pamphlets, catalogues and website must also come with a warning about cancer risks, particularly for people with skin cancer or a family history of skin cancer.

"The FDA has taken a very strong stand about indoor tanning and this will, I think, really encourage additional states to strengthen their indoor tanning restrictions," said Dr. Mary Maloney of the University of Massachusetts Medical School, who is a spokeswoman for the American Academy of Dermatology.

Aside from these warning labels, the FDA stated that manufacturers must meet new safety and design guidelines. For example, tanning booths must add timers so that consumers do not accidentally stay in the machines for too long. Tanning booths must also have a limit on the total amount of radiation levels that can be emitted. In addition, the FDA has reclassified tanning beds and sun lamps as higher-risk, class II devices. They were previously considered low-risk devices.

"The FDA is not trying to burden salons but rather to educate consumers who choose to voluntarily use sun lamp products about the potential risks," said FDA deputy director for policy, Nancy Stad reported by Philly.

Manufacturers have around 15 months to place these new labels on products that already exist and are being used in facilities. Companies that want to sell new tanning booths have 90 days to comply.

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