WASHINGTON — Anyone under the age of 18 would be barred from using indoor tanning equipment, under a federal proposal to help reduce skin cancer linked to the devices.
The Food and Drug Administration also wants to require tanning bed users to sign consent forms acknowledging the risks of the radiation-emitting devices. Tanning salons and other businesses would have to collect the forms from customers before their first tanning session and every six months thereafter.
Friday's announcement follows years of prodding by dermatologists and medical groups for bolder action on indoor tanning, citing rising rates of skin cancer among teens and people in their 20s, particularly women. The leading professional group for skin specialists applauded the news.
"Indoor tanning is the cigarette of this generation, it is so clearly carcinogenic," said Dr. Mark Lebwohl, president of the American Academy of Dermatology. "It is long overdue and a historic victory in our fight to eradicate skin cancer that the FDA has come out with a proposal to restrict indoor tanning."
Twenty-three states already have laws banning minors from using indoor tanning equipment.
Last year the FDA required tanning beds and sun lamps to carry new warnings advising that they should not be used by anyone under age 18. The FDA has regulated tanning machines for over 30 years, but had previously taken little action to restrict their use.
The Indoor Tanning Association said decisions about tanning should be left to parents, not the government.