Tanning industry tries anew to salvage reputation
WASHINGTON — A new association of tanning salon owners is trying to salvage the reputation of sun beds despite a broad consensus among doctors and researchers that the devices can cause cancer.
The American Suntanning Association, which represents about 14,000 salon owners nationwide, formed in December to correct “misinformation about sunlight and sun beds” and “to promote the many benefits of moderate indoor tanning,” according to the group's website. The association joined other industry groups to lobby against legislation introduced this year in 17 states that would ban children younger than 18 from tanning salons. So far, only California and Vermont have passed such bans.
As the revamped association gears up to defend the $5 billion indoor tanning industry, however, a state senator from California, Democrat Ted Lieu, has asked the Federal Trade Commission to investigate the group for allegedly deceiving consumers about the skin cancer risks of sun beds.
“They are in complete denial that their tanning beds are killing people,” Lieu said.
In two letters to the FTC, Lieu argued that the American Suntanning Association should be bound by a 2010 FTC order that prohibited a similar group called the Indoor Tanning Association from making “false health and safety claims about indoor tanning,” such as denying the skin cancer risks of tanning or declaring that indoor tanning is safer than tanning outdoors.
In a settlement with the federal agency, the Indoor Tanning Association agreed to stop misrepresenting tests or studies and to halt deceptive advertisements.
Lieu says the newly established American Suntanning Association is composed of many of the same members as the Indoor Tanning Association and shouldn't be allowed to make statements that the FTC has ruled false or misleading.
Lieu said last week that he now had “concrete evidence” that the new group was a successor organization to the Indoor Tanning Association, and therefore in direct violation of the federal settlement.
He sent the FTC a copy of an article in an industry magazine in which American Suntanning Association board member Diane Lucas thanks the Indoor Tanning Association “for making such a smooth transition by getting us all the state lobbying history and contact information for the state lobbying battles.”
“It's just very clear to me that it's simply the same industry trade group with a different name,” Lieu said. FTC spokeswoman Betsy Lordan said the agency couldn't comment on whether an investigation is under way.
The Indoor Tanning Association, which still appears to be an active organization in Washington, didn't respond to requests for comment. On its website, the group says it represents tanning manufacturers, distributors and members of support industries, as well as facility owners.
The new American Suntanning Association, which represents only salon owners, disputes Lieu's allegations.
“It's untrue,” said Tracie Cunningham, the executive director of the association, which is based in Michigan. “The senator's understanding of the science is a perfect example of why both sides of the story need to be heard. ”
The World Health Organization's International Agency for Research on Cancer classifies ultraviolet radiation from sun beds as carcinogenic to humans, alongside tobacco and asbestos.
A 2007 study by the agency determined that people who start tanning regularly before age 30 have a 75 percent higher risk of developing melanoma, a deadly form of skin cancer.
Other studies have reached similar conclusions.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Ohio dairy farmers cashing in on gas well boom
- Letter that inspired Beat poet Kerouac discovered
- Under pressure, Hagel steps down as Pentagon chief
- Ferguson, Mo., grand jury to meet Monday, decide on possible indictment of police officer
- Police code of conduct aims to curb unlawful seizures from motorists
- Boy with fake gun shot by officer dies
- Report: College judicial boards work secretively
- Tufts center study: It costs $2.6B to get drug to market
- Nevada speaker-elect steps down amid criticism
- ‘Sex purchasers’ publicly shamed
- 3-mile buffer suggested for grouse breeding, oil and gas drilling