Indoor tanning within the U.S. is currently the subject of a set of FDA proposals that would see increased restrictions and warnings placed on the practice. In order to better sense the pulse of public opinion on the matter; researchers conducted a small study amongst women in the Washington D.C area. The findings suggest widespread support for restrictions, but not for an outright ban.
Skin cancer risks are, compared to other types, extremely easy to lower by avoiding exposure to ultraviolet radiation, whether from the sun directly or the lamps used in artificial tanning. Skin cancer is the most common malignancy in the U.S. at 3.5 million new cases getting diagnosed each year.
About 10% of all cases are associated with indoor tanning, a significant chunk for what is an avoidable risk factor. Although the past few years have seen improved regulations on indoor tanning and to protect minors in particular, these have been done primarily on the state-level and are inconsistent across the country. The FDA’s proposed regulations would be more uniform and consistent.
The study recruited 356 non-Hispanic white women between the ages of 18 and 30, since this demographic are the highest users of indoor tanning. The participants also had all used indoor tanning at least once within the past year. They were asked about how they felt regarding indoor tanning as a practice and their opinions were sought on how well they agreed with age restrictions on indoor tanning, enhanced warnings, and a total ban like the ones that have been implemented in Australia and Brazil.
Of those interviewed, there was a great deal of support for most indoor tanning prevention policies. 74% supported a minimum age of 21 to keep minors from tanning, and 77.6% were in favor of stronger health warnings on the devices themselves. When the idea of an outright ban was brought up, support fell sharply with only about 10% being in agreement. This suggests that regulatory efforts should focus more on prevention and deterrence strategies rather than outright prohibition in order to get the most support.
The caveat is that survey is obviously small and has a limited subject pool, so it isn’t entirely clear how well it represents the broader public’s views on indoor tanning. It does suggest, however, that among the higher-using demographics within D.C. at least, that there is support for the restrictions and non-ban approaches for improving safety.
Mays, D., et al., “Support for indoor tanning policies among young women who indoor tan,” Translational Behavioral Medicine, 2016; 10.1007/s13142-016-0432-6.