Three-quarters of young adult women who visit indoor tanning salons support stronger restrictions on their use, including minimum age requirements; however, most do not support a total ban, a study published in Translational Behavioral medicine: Practice, Policy, Research has shown.1

Skin cancer is the most common malignancy in the United States, with more 3.5 million new cases diagnosed each year. Most skin cancers are preventable by limiting exposure to ultraviolet radiation — both natural and man-made. Use of indoor tanning beds account for an estimated 10% of all US skin cancer cases annually.

More than 40 US states implemented stricter regulations for indoor tanning facility use, especially for minors, by 2015. The US FDA reclassified tanning devices as moderate to high-risk medical devices, and issued new regulations for the health warnings placed on the tanning devices.

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A study led by Darren Mays, PhD, MPH, of Georgetown University Medical Center sought to assess public support for these and other measures to limit exposure to ultraviolet radiation from indoor tanning devices and better educate the public about the health risks associated with their use. For the study, researchers evaluated the responses to a confidential online survey completed by 356 non-Hispanic women in Washington, DC.

The respondents were age 18 to 30 years and had used an indoor tanning device at least once in the last 12 months. Survey questions asked about respondents’ attitudes, perceptions and beliefs toward the practice, and frequency of use. In addition, the survey asked how the respondent felt about proposed new policies for regulating the industry.

Three of every 4 respondents (74%) supported age restrictions to prevent children younger than 18 years from using the devices. Support for placing stronger health warnings on the devices themselves was also high, with 77.6% reportedly in favor. However, only 1 in 10 respondents supported a complete ban on indoor tanning.

“Given the low levels of support for a total indoor tanning ban, support for other potential policies such as increasing the minimum age to 21 should be investigated to inform future steps to reduce indoor tanning and the associated health risks,” commented Mays.


1. Mays D, Murphy SE, Bubly, R, Atkins MB, Tercyak KP. Support for indoor tanning policies among young adult women who indoor tan. Transl Behav Med. 2016 Aug 5. doi: 10.1007/s13142-016-0432-6. [Epub ahead of print]