Indoor tanning: FTC prohibits ITA from making false health and safety claims

Indoor tanning: FTC prohibits ITA from making false health and safety claims

News and Articles
Jan 28 2010

The American Academy of Dermatology (Academy) applauds the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) for issuing a consent order that prohibits the Indoor Tanning Association (ITA) from making false health and safety claims about indoor tanning. The Academy raised its concerns about the false statements being made by the ITA with the FTC in 2008 after the ITA launched an advertising campaign designed to portray indoor tanning as safe and beneficial. The Academy and several of its leading members cooperated fully with the agency’s investigation into this important public health issue. The FTC is the federal government agency that works for consumers to prevent fraudulent, deceptive, and unfair business practices and to provide information to help spot, stop, and avoid them.

“The American Academy of Dermatology commends the FTC for its investigation into the false and deceptive health and safety claims about indoor tanning being perpetuated by the indoor tanning industry,” said dermatologist David M. Pariser, MD, FAAD, president of the American Academy of Dermatology. “The scientific facts are clear: exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation – either from the sun or from artificial sources such as indoor tanning – increases the risk of developing skin cancer, including melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer,” said Dr. Pariser.

“This action comes at a particularly opportune time because many individuals may be using indoor tanning facilities during the winter months under the false impression that this is a safe way to generate their bodies’ production of vitamin D as has been claimed by the industry in its advertising,” said Dr. Pariser. “The Academy hopes that this action will persuade individuals to rethink this choice and stop using or avoid indoor tanning altogether.”

This year, more than 1 million new cases of skin cancer will be diagnosed in the United States — exceeding the incidence of all other cancers combined. It is estimated that there would be about 121,840 new cases of melanoma in 2009.

Studies have found that use of indoor tanning by persons younger than 35 increases the person’s risk of melanoma by 75 percent. Melanoma is the most common form of cancer for young adults 25-29 years old and the second most common form of cancer for adolescents and young adults 15-29 years old. Melanoma is increasing faster in females 15-29 years old than males in the same age group. In females 15-29 years old, the torso is the most common location for developing melanoma, which might be due to high-risk tanning behaviors. Nearly 70 percent of tanning salon patrons are Caucasian girls and women, primarily aged 16 to 29 years.

Under its settlement with the FTC, the ITA is prohibited from making the misrepresentations challenged in the complaint, from misrepresenting any tests or studies, and from providing deceptive advertisements to members. The settlement also requires that future association ads that make safety or health benefits claims for indoor tanning may not be misleading, must be substantiated, and must clearly and prominently disclose that exposure to ultraviolet radiation may increase the risk of developing skin cancer. The FTC consent order also requires the ITA to notify its members of the consent order and request that they immediately cease and desist from using all advertising materials previously provided to them by the ITA, including the advertising materials distributed by the ITA for its 2008 campaign.

The American Academy of Dermatology Association (AADA), the Academy’s sister advocacy organization, opposes indoor tanning and supports a ban on the production and sale of indoor tanning equipment for non-medical purposes. Additionally, the AADA urges the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to take action that will ban the sale and use of tanning equipment for non-medical purposes. Unless and until the FDA bans the sale and use of tanning equipment for non-medical purposes, the AADA supports the following requirements for indoor tanning facilities:

  • No minor should be permitted to use tanning devices.
  • A Surgeon General’s warning should be placed on all tanning devices.
  • No person or facility should advertise the use of any ultraviolet A or ultraviolet B tanning device using wording such as “safe,” “safe tanning,” “no harmful rays,” “no adverse effect,” or similar wording or concepts.

SOURCE American Academy of Dermatology


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