Two of the more popular U.S. tanning salon chains have had it coming: New York State general attorney, Eric T. Schneiderman, sued them for minimizing the dangers linked to indoor tanning – and advertising their practices as benign, even healthy.
Portofino Spas and Total Tan, the salons under investigation, were accused of breaking the state laws in the matter of deceptive business practices.
Schneiderman filed the lawsuits on grounds of false advertisement statements on their websites when they claimed indoor tanning was not only safe, but could also boost vitamin D production. Moreover, they said their tanning places will help reduce the health risk of diabetes, heart disease, and cancer.
However, it is a well-known fact that a lot of health agencies have taken a stand against the use of indoor tanning practices. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, booking sessions of indoor tanning can cause a plethora of skin cancers (including the most dangerous, melanoma) and the premature aging of the skin.
Is tanning indeed harmful?
Last year, results of a large study showed that indoor tanning accounts for up to 400,000 patients developing skin cancer in the United States every year.
You can find a serious warning right on CDC’s official website, saying that exposure to UVA and UVB rays is very harmful to the skin and is one of the causes leading to skin cancer.
The agency also issued an official caution on the risk of developing blinding eye diseases – if proper protection is not used during the tanning sessions. At the same time, vitamin D boosts your good health, but you should turn to food for your supply rather than to artificial ways.
In the lawsuit Schneiderman has filed against Portofino Spas, which owns five Portofino Sun Center salons in New York City, he quoted their website denying there could be any link between artificial tanning and cancer.
Statements read: “Conflicting data exist questioning the UV-melanoma relationship.” Then it went on saying that independent dermatology researchers (already smells fishy) have gone on record questioning whether there is any solid proof connecting UV to melanoma at all.
In addition, the lawsuit brought to the State Supreme Court in Manhattan also charges Portofino Spas with failing to warn its customers of the health risks associated with indoor tanning – which they are required to do by state law by posting caution signs in all its centers.
The story of Total Tan is even more serious, as they own 26 indoor tanning salons across upstate New York – which means even more misled clients. Schneiderman’s office said that their official website made similar false claims, with the addition that they once even used as advertising a man’s testimony of how indoor tanning cured his kidney cancer.
The most outrageous claim quoted in the lawsuit said that “A tanning unit can produce as much Vitamin D as drinking 100 glasses of milk!” However, Brian Mahoney, one of the partners at Harris Beach, the firm that owns Total Tan, denied Schneiderman’s allegations. He explained the company had consulted with a business professor at Siena College who concluded that no false or misleading claims were made about vitamin D.
Denying the allegations
In an official statement, Total Tan said that the issue within the medical community regarding the lack of vitamin D is a growing concern, and the leading cause for this deficiency is too little sun exposure. Mahoney added that Schneiderman should not try to intimidate other businesses by forcing his own point of view into the industry.
Portofino Spas has yet to make an official statement or comment upon the attorney general’s allegations.
These two major chains have been sued as a part of a larger concern about the industry of indoor tanning salons in New York. Last year, Hollywood Tans NYC was also investigated by Schneiderman’s office, and this particular tanning place was then prohibited from making false health claims. Some of their slogans were “sunlight prevents skin cancer” and “the American Cancer Society doesn’t want you to know the truth about tanning beds.”
Besides filing these recent two lawsuits, two other companies were sent red flagged letters – one of them was Planet Fitness, the popular gym chain, as the agency opposes to the offer of unlimited indoor tanning packages to its gym members. The other targeted company was Beach Bum Tanning Salons, current owner of 14 centers across New York.
Beach Bum Tanning’s media representative opted for the “no comment” answer; Planet Fitness, on the other hand, said they were collaborating with the attorney general’s office in order to reach a mutual resolution.
David Fisher, head of the dermatology department at Harvard Medical School commends attorney general’s initiative of investigating these indoor tanning centers, calling it “a big step in the right direction.”
Image Source: Boston Magazine