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Proposed tanning bed ban hailed as big step against skin cancers

It is no secret that many in Texas go to great lengths to obtain and maintain the look of their tans. The allure of the golden glow is something that some attribute to fashion icon Coco Channel. They say photographs of her tanned self sparked the trend years ago. Since then, something of a battle has been underway between tanning promoters and public health officials who say that the process of exposing the skin to the sun's ultraviolet rays is a sure way of increasing one's risk of developing deadly skin cancer.

In a bid to address the concerns of health officials, the tanning bed industry developed. But now regulators are moving to bring those devices under stricter control in hopes of reducing serious burns, cases of melanoma and saving lives. The Food and Drug Administration is proposing a ban on tanning bed usage by anyone under the age of 18.

Many readers might not have been aware of this, but tanning beds and sunlamps are considered medical devices. As such, they fall under the FDA's purview.

Under the new rules proposed today, not only would those under 18 be prohibited from using tanning salons or sunlamps, but those over 18 would have to sign waivers stating that they understand that the devices carry a danger of causing injury or disease.

The rules would also step up the burden on tanning bed and sunlamp manufacturers to make them safer. They would oblige makers to make already-required warnings even more clear and make design modifications, such as including a "panic" button to allow users to shut the lamps down.

It should be noted that Texas law already bans the use of tanning beds by those under 18. Besides creating conditions that increase cancer risks, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that hundreds of people go to the emergency room every year because of severe burns and eye damage.

With the announcement of the proposed rule, the public now has 90 days to make comments. How do you feel about this move?

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