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Despite the risks, tanning remains a persistent problem, especially among white teenage girls. According to a 2014 study, it is estimated that more than 400,000 cases of skin cancer may be related to indoor tanning in the United States each year—causing 245,000 basal cell carcinomas, 168,000 squamous cell carcinomas, and 6,000 melanomas. By comparison, the study found that there are more cases of cancer due to indoor tanning than there are of lung cancer due to smoking. Some studies have shown that use of tanning beds by young adults’, results in eight times the risk of developing melanoma. This has led some lawmakers to push for stricter warnings regarding the sun beds, despite advocates arguing the potential dangers are being exaggerated. The latest blow to the tanning-bed industry is a recent lawsuit filed by the New York Attorney General.

Alleged false advertisement about the so-called “safety” of indoor tanning salons prompted the New York Attorney General to file a lawsuit againg two tanning salon franchises. Eric T. Schneiderman, accuses Portofino Spas and Total Tan of downplaying risks associated with indoor tanning and promoting the practice as a healthful activity. The suit claims the salons are in violation of state laws against deceptive business practices by making statements on their websites and in advertisements suggesting that indoor tanning is a safer alternative to outdoor sunbathing, is a safer way to reap the benefits of vitamin D, and reduce the risk of heart disease, cancer and diabetes. The lawsuit also accuses Portofino Spas of failing to post signs at its facilities warning customers about the dangers associated with indoor tanning, which is mandated by state law. “Make no mistake about it: There is nothing safe about indoor tanning. The use of ultra-violet devices increases exposure to cancer-causing radiation and puts millions of Americans in serious danger – young adults, in particular,” said Schneiderman. In addition to the lawsuit, state officials announced plans to take action against other such companies including Planet Fitness.

Fourteen states have placed bans on minors using tanning devices, and the federal government has imposed a 10 percent tax on all indoor tanning services. In fact, In a July 2014 warning, “Call to Action to Prevent Skin Cancer,” the U.S. Surgeon General urged people to stop sunbathing and avoid indoor tanning beds. The FDA announced that by late 2105 all manufacturers will be required to put a black-box warning on tanning beds stating that they should not be used by anyone under the age of 18, but stopped short of banning their use by minors. Therefore, it is vital to get the message out to parents especially in states where parental consent is required for a minor to use a tanning bed.

Bottom line? Beware of tanning beds at any age! There is NO such thing as a safe tan, indoor or outdoor.

Mark Bello is the CEO and General Counsel of Lawsuit Financial Corporation, a pro-justice lawsuit funding company.

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