WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Reps. Charlie Dent (PA-15) and Carolyn B. Maloney (NY-14) today introduced H.R. 1676, a bipartisan bill to help prevent the development of melanoma among Americans by updating federal standards involving tanning beds. Studies have revealed those who use tanning beds put themselves at a 75 percent higher risk of developing melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer.

“Although Melanoma is often preventable, American families continue to lose loved ones to this destructive form of skin cancer,” said Rep. Dent. “While many Americans are aware of the dangers associated with Melanoma and take precautionary steps to prevent developing the disease, we must continue to educate the public about risks associated with too much exposure to UV light, especially from tanning beds. Our legislation ensures tanning bed standards are updated to minimize risk, and labels are positioned and worded to send a clear and prominent message about the real dangers associated with tanning.”

“Americans are aware of the dangers of smoking before they light up. It’s important they also know the risk of developing melanoma before they lie down,” Rep. Dent continued.

“Tanning beds are where cigarettes were in the 1950s: everyone knows they’re cancer-causing, and yet they are poorly regulated,” said Rep. Maloney. “Every year, almost 70,000 new cases of skin cancer are diagnosed, and 8,700 Americans die of the disease. Since the World Health Organization has reclassified tanning devices as ‘carcinogenic to humans,’ it’s time for the FDA to reexamine its classification of the devices—and that’s what this bill requires—because doing so will help save lives.”

Recently, the World Health Organization (WHO) raised its classification of the use of UV-emitting tanning devices to Group 1, placing tanning beds alongside tobacco, asbestos and uranium as a definite cause of cancer. In a 2008 report to Congress, the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) acknowledged that tanning bed standards are in need of a contemporary assessment. H.R. 1676 calls on the FDA to act upon its own report's suggestion to review and update these performance standards in the interest of consumer health.

Tanning beds are currently listed by the FDA as Class I medical devices, characterized as posing minimal potential harm to users. Other examples of Class I medical devices are Band-Aids, tongue depressors, breast pumps, and latex gloves. H.R. 1676 instructs the FDA to reexamine the classification of tanning beds to ensure that it accurately reflects their technology and associated risks. A higher classification would make all newly developed devices subject to pre-market surveillance and evaluation. H.R. 1676 also directs the FDA to establish performance standards that determine the strength of the UV rays emitted from lamps and the recommended amount of time a consumer should remain in the tanning bed. The standards that govern tanning bed use have not been updated since 1985—despite significant advances in technology over the last 25 years.

Earlier this morning, Dent spoke at a Congressional briefing on skin cancer awareness and the dangers of indoor tanning that coincided with the introduction of H.R. 1676. Following the briefing, volunteer dermatologists conducted free skin cancer screenings for the public. The day’s events were scheduled for early May to highlight the start of Melanoma/Skin Cancer Detection and Prevention Month.