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A New Tanning Salon Lobby Asks: What Cancer Risk?

Can the industry prove that indoor tanning is safe?
Can the industry prove that indoor tanning is safe?Photograph by The U-T San Diego/Zuma Press   

It’s a dark time for the indoor tanning business. First tanning salons were singled out for a special tax in the health reform bill. Then California and Vermont made it illegal for them to serve people under 18. The bans follow a 2009 decision by the World Health Organization to label indoor tanning devices “carcinogenic to humans.”

Enter a new trade group for salon operators, the American Suntanning Association, that wants to “combat myths” and counter “misinformation” about tanning risks, according to a news release introducing the group. “The science itself hasn’t really entered into the discussion,” says Doug McNabb, owner of Fabutan Suntan Studios, a chain based in Calgary, in Alberta, Canada (most of the association’s members are in the U.S.). “It’s really been a subjective emotional process, in our opinion.”