Merced-area tanning salons fear business will go pale under new regulations

05/29/2014 8:55 PM

05/29/2014 10:31 PM

The tanning industry is facing stricter regulations.

While the changes are designed to raise consumer awareness, some in the industry worry the new rules could hurt business.

On Thursday, the Food and Drug Administration announced it will require manufacturers of sunlamp products, such as tanning beds and booths, to provide additional warning statements on their products and marketing materials. This order aims to reduce skin cancer related to radiation-emitting devices, according to the FDA.

The new order asks that cautionary labels, including “Persons repeatedly exposed to UV radiation should be regularly evaluated for skin cancer,” be placed on all indoor tanning devices.

The FDA also reclassified these sunlamp products from low-risk to moderate-risk devices.

Those in the tanning industry express concern about the impact the new regulations would have on business.

“It would be a lot better if the FDA had not decided to place another layer of regulation, another layer of costs and difficulty on an already struggling industry,” said John Overstreet, executive director of the Indoor Tanning Association. “We’re obviously disappointed that they decided to take this step.”

In Merced, Katie Green, owner of Tropical Tanning in the Bear Creek Galleria on G Street, said most of her tanning beds do come with some sort of health risk warning label already, so she doesn’t think this new regulation would make too much of a difference for her customers.

The new order applies only to the makers of indoor tanning products, and not tanning salons.

Yet, Green makes sure that all the tanning rooms in her salon display a sign that advises people on the dangers of UV radiation. She also displays a list of medications that people should stay away from if they plan on tanning.

“This is just like anything else, there are warning signs on medicine, on food and drinks,” Green said. “I don’t see anything wrong with letting people know about the potential risks they face.”

Gabby Thatcher, an employee at Del Sol Tanning Salon on Main Street, said the new labels may scare off some clients.

“It’s not like tanning gives people cancer immediately, but just seeing the word ‘cancer’ may shy people away,” Thatcher said. “Maybe labels with websites that people can visit so that they can do their own research might have been a better idea.”

The new regulation will also demand that manufacturers include a black-box label stating that people under 18 should not use tanning beds and sunlamps.

In 2012, California became the first state to ban the use of UV indoor tanning devices for all minors.

Green recalls her business took a big hit when that ban went into effect.

“Half of my customers were teens, so that was tough,” said Green, who has owned Tropical Tanning since 2002. “But I don’t think this new rule will have the same effect, at least I hope not.”

Thatcher is of the opinion that if minors are accompanied by their parents, then they should be allowed to use tanning beds. “As long as they do it with measure and their parent approves, then it should be OK,” she said.

People who are exposed to UV radiation from indoor tanning experience a 59 percent increase in the risk of melanoma, according to the American Academy of Dermatology.

However, Green, who also tans regularly and keeps close contact with her dermatologist, said that many times the positives of tanning are not highlighted.

“Tanning in these beds is a great way to produce vitamin D,” she said. “I also have some people that use tanning as a way to help treat psoriasis. But most importantly, it’s a nice, fun way to just enjoy 15 minutes of relaxation.”

If people are looking for a safer alternative to tanning beds and booths, Green recommends spray tanning. “It may not last as long but it looks just as great,” she said.

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