FTC Cracks Down on Indoor Tanning Claims


The Federal Trade Commission has obtained a settlement from the Indoor Tanning Association in which the industry group has agreed that it will no longer make false health and safety claims about indoor tanning.

The American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) applauded the action, noting that it had complained to the FTC in the wake of an advertising campaign launched by the Indoor Tanning Association (ITA) in March 2008. That campaign made a number of false claims, according to the FTC. Among them: that indoor tanning is approved by the government; that it is safer than outdoor tanning; and that vitamin D supplements may impair immunity.

The ITA ad campaign also claimed that the National Academy of Sciences had determined that “the risks of not getting enough ultraviolet light far outweigh the hypothetical risk of skin cancer.”

“The messages promoted by the indoor tanning industry fly in the face of scientific evidence,” said David C. Vladeck, director of the FTC's Bureau of Consumer Protection in a statement announcing the settlement.

According to the draft settlement, ITA is prohibited from “making the misrepresentations challenged in the complaint, from misrepresenting any tests or studies, and from providing deceptive advertisements to its members.” Future ads must make certain disclosures. Ads that make claims about health benefits or safety of indoor tanning have to say: “Exposure to ultraviolet radiation may increase the likelihood of developing skin cancer and can cause serious eye injury.”

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