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Nanny State of the Week: FDA goes beyond the pale, prepares to ban teen tanning

By   /   February 29, 2016  /   News  /   No Comments

Part 71 of 94 in the series Nanny State of the Week

In many states, teens are required to get parental permission before they can climb inside an indoor tanning bed.

Soon, even parental permission might not be enough. The federal government is poised to let nannyism override parental consent.

The Food and Drug Administration recently unveiled new rules for indoor tanning that would ban anyone under the age of 18 from using a tanning bed. The FDA says the new rules are part of a commitment to “protecting public health by informing consumers about the risks of indoor tanning.

Shutterstock image

CATCH SOME RAYS: Experts say “sun exposure is beneficial in moderation, but can be harmful in excess.” But when the government acts, its policies leave no room for moderation.

Someone needs to get the bureaucrats at the FDA a dictionary, because they’re using the word “informing” incorrectly.

“Informing consumers” means giving them information – like explaining how science shows a connection between excessive indoor tanning and higher risks of skin cancer – but then trusting informed consumers to consider that risk and make their own decisions.

It could also mean taking steps to ensure that some people, like teens, are fully aware of the risks by getting their parents involved.

Telling someone they are not allowed to do something is not “informing” them of anything, except perhaps the extent to which the federal government wants to stick its nose into their everyday lives.

“These proposed rules are meant to help adults make their decisions based on truthful information and to ensure manufacturers and tanning facilities take additional steps to improve the safety of these devices,” says the FDA.

But those same adults are apparently incapable of making that same decision when their children are involved. That’s the government’s job, apparently.

Tanning is big business in the United States, and young people make up a substantial portion of tanning salons’ customers. About 20 percent of adults in the U.S. tan at least once a year, but as much as 35 percent of American teens do, according to data from the National Institutes of Health.

Should parents be aware of the potential dangers of indoor tanning before letting their children tan? Absolutely.

But should government have the power to overrule parents on the issue of tanning (or plenty of other issues, come to think of it)? Nope.

Let’s not pretend there aren’t risks that come with tanning – whether done artificially or outside under the blazing sun the way God intended.  According to the American Academy of Dermatology, those who have been exposed to radiation from indoor tanning are 59 percent more likely to develop melanoma than those who have never tanned indoors.

But there are benefits, too, beyond the vanity of not looking like a ghost for six months of the year. Tanning helps eliminate acne, and getting a base tan before hitting the beach can help protect against serious sunburn.

The federal government knows this. It funded research by the National Institutes of Health that found both risks and rewards to indoor tanning. 

“Sun exposure is beneficial in moderation, but can be harmful in excess. Sun exposure guidance should be tailored to the individual patient,” researchers for the NIH concluded.

Government policies leave no room for moderation, or for individuals to tailor their actions to their own individual needs.

When the government nannies decide to make something mandatory or illegal, there is no middle ground.

The FDA is accepting public comment on the new rules until the end of March.  Comments can be submitted here.

Part of 94 in the series Nanny State of the Week
  1. Nanny-state state of the week: MD may become first to ban Vaportinis
  2. Nanny-state city of the week: Minneapolis wants to ban take-out trays
  3. Skim is in: CT lawmakers want to ban whole milk in day cares
  4. Nanny state of the week: Fairfax, VA, wants to limit the right to assemble
  5. Nanny state of the week: SC — and Schumer — for duplicative efforts to ban powdered alcohol
  6. Nanny of the Week: Virginia hoses down car wash fundraisers
  7. Nanny of the Week: Even a summertime trip to the beach can’t be nanny-free
  8. Nanny of the week: Federal authorities think feral cats can read signs
  9. Nanny of the week: Cambridge wants to ban ride-sharing services like Uber and Lyft
  10. Nanny-stater of the week: NY lawmaker wants to ban photos with tigers
  11. Nanny-stater of the Week: Who needs cupcakes and candy? Here, have a pencil
  12. Nanny-stater of the week: Fargo limits kids to less than four shots of juice per day
  13. Nanny-stater of the week: Wisconsin towns fight repeal of bow ban
  14. Nanny of the week: No fun in the sun, thanks to Congress and FDA
  15. Nanny-stater of the week: DOT to ban cell phone use on planes
  16. Nanny of the week: The out-of-control trend of arresting non-helicopter moms
  17. Nanny of the Week: Vermont city could ban ‘human activity’
  18. Nanny of the Week: Mississippi makes bird feeders illegal – by accident
  19. Nanny of the week: MO town bans breastfeeding near pools
  20. Nanny of the Week: School bans lip balm, 11 year-old girl fights back
  21. Watchdog.org blows lid off Vermont’s bake sale brownie ban
  22. Nanny of the Week: Seattle imposes fine on residents who throw away food
  23. Nanny of the Week: California bans plastic bags
  24. Nanny of the week: Maybe this time it will be different for Chicago
  25. Nanny of the Week: Florida growls at craft breweries’ growlers
  26. Nanny of the Week: Massachusetts town seeking to ban tobacco faces uprising from residents
  27. Nanny of the Week: Proposed bans on Thanksgiving Day shopping
  28. Nanny of the week: U.S. government bans ‘Comfyballs’ underwear
  29. Nanny of the Week: Better take down those holiday decorations
  30. Nanny of the week: Towns ban sledding
  31. Nanny of the Week: New York City plans to ban out-of-state cars
  32. Nanny of the Week: Snow-shoveling teens get in trouble with the law
  33. Nanny of the Week: Get caught wearing yoga pants three times, go to jail for life
  34. Nanny of the Week: Georgia lawmaker wants to ban mermaids, werewolves, other fictional creatures from real life
  35. Nanny State of the Week: Endangering manatees in Florida
  36. Nanny of the Week: Christie caves to protectionist gravestone proposal in N.J.
  37. Nanny of the Week: Don’t mix beer and ice cream – because of the children
  38. Nanny of the Week: Is the minimum wage a nanny state policy?
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  40. Nanny of the Week: NJ continues ban on self-serve gasoline, because sometimes it snows
  41. Nanny of the Week: Bernie Sanders is coming for your deodorant
  42. Nanny of the Week: Will babies confuse beer for their binkies?
  43. Nanny of the Week: Weeds will prevail in Maryland lawn care ban
  44. Nanny State of the Week: FDA bans trans-fats
  45. Nanny State of the Week: L.A. plans to jail unlicensed street vendors
  46. Nanny ST8 of the Week: Anti-government messages not allowed on license plates
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  53. Nanny State of the Week: Colorado Springs may ban sitting in public places
  54. Nanny State of the Week: New York’s soda ban could be back — but for kids only
  55. Nanny State of the Week: D.C. flexing licensing muscles at personal trainers
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  57. Nanny State of the Week: County can use same lawn treatments it banned residents from using
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  59. Nanny State of the Week: Bay Area bureaucrats ban fireplaces, wood stoves
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  62. Nanny State of the Week: New York might accidentally ban makeup
  63. Nanny State of the Week: California could be first state to apply no-fly list to guns
  64. Nanny State of the Week: University may block social media app in futile effort to combat racism
  65. Nanny State of the Week: City fines residents for chipped paint, mismatched curtains
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  69. Nanny State of the Week: Minnesota men facing felony charges for selling beer
  70. Nanny State of the Week: City rewrites law to block theater from getting liquor license
  71. Nanny State of the Week: FDA goes beyond the pale, prepares to ban teen tanning
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  73. Nanny State of the Week: Feds marketing food stamps with bingo games, TV ads
  74. Nanny State of the Week: No sipping and selling for Alabama winemakers
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  79. Nanny State of the Week: A state license for breast-feeding advice?
  80. Nanny State of the Week: School officials bully kids with ban on skinny jeans
  81. Nanny State of the Week: FDA fries family’s potato chip business with new cooking oil mandates
  82. Nanny State of the Week: CFPB knows what is best for your personal finances
  83. Nanny State of the Week: City cracks down on crawfish boils after mayor’s aide complains
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  85. Nanny State of the Week: State lawmakers to decide where you can get an Uber in Boston
  86. Nanny State of the Week: Businesses can’t sell parking spaces to Braves fans
  87. Nanny State of the Week: OK, everybody’s foam toys, out of the pool
  88. Nanny State of the Week: Get out of the pool!
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    Eric Boehm is the national regulatory reporter for Watchdog.org. He lives in St. Paul, Minnesota. His work has appeared in Reason Magazine, National Review Online, The Freeman Magazine, The Philadelphia Inquirer, The Washington Examiner and Fox News. He was once featured in a BuzzFeed listicle. Follow him on Twitter @EricBoehm87 and reach him at [email protected]