The FDA may crack down on tanning beds

March 26, 2010 6:56:49 AM PDT
At the moment, tanning beds are classified as a class one medical devices - in the same category as band-aids, floss and tongue depressors.

But, the FDA is now considering bolder warnings and stricter regulations.

The reaction is mixed.

"There's several benefits to tanning in moderation," offered tanning salon owner Brent Merek.

Some disagree.

"The tanning bed industry talks about this is a safe tan, there is no such thing as a safe tan," said dermatologist Dr. Vikas Patel

An estimated 30 million people use tanning beds each year.

"I've been tanning off and on probably since I was 15," college student Charlotte Lowson told ABC11. "I tan because it's better for me then going outside I can control it."

Lowson has never had skin cancer, but a recent report by the World Health Organization is prompting the FDA to call for tougher rules on the industry.

"Seven studies have shown that there is an increase of cancer by 75 percent for people who are exposed to ultraviolet light by the age of 35," said Patel.

Merek owns three tanning salons in the Triangle.

"It's really moderation and not over doing it," he said.

Tanning beds already have warnings, but if the FDA could up the level of oversight - requiring larger warnings like the ones seen on cigarette boxes for example.

"They need to have very clear warnings just like what we see on cigarette boxes," said Patel.

Owners like Merek feel targeted. The tanning industry is already facing a 10 percent tax after the passage of healthcare reform.

"It's going to have devastating effects on our business," he said.

Lowson doesn't want to have to pay more.

"It's not fair to them and it's not fair to us," she said.

But others argue that anything linked to cancer needs heavy regulations.

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