A chain of indoor tanning salons has promised to stop making misleading health claims under an agreement with the state Attorney General’s Office.
State Supreme Court Justice Alice Schlesinger has approved the agreement with Total Tan Inc., a company that operates tanning salons at 25 locations across upstate New York, including 14 in Erie and Niagara counties, State Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman announced Tuesday. A lawsuit was filed against Total Tan in April 2015.
“I am especially concerned with rising cancer rates associated with indoor tanning, particularly for young people,” Schneiderman said.
“Advertising and marketing cannot be used to confuse and endanger New York consumers.”
The company said it feels vindicated by the agreement.
“After a lengthy dispute with the state government, we are pleased to announce that we have resolved this matter with the New York State attorney general, with no fine, no penalty and no admission of wrongdoing and Total Tan feels vindicated by this resolution,” said attorney Brian C. Mahoney, who represented the company, in a statement.
“Total Tan is a proud, small, upstate, family-owned business that conducts itself in an honest and professional manner,” Mahoney’s statement added. “Total Tan greatly appreciates the support of its loyal customers and friends who have stood by them during this ordeal. They look forward to continuing to serve their customers and focus all of their energies on their business.”
As part of the agreement, Total Tan will pay $5,000 a day if it makes health misrepresentations in the future and $500 for each future violation of state tanning regulations.
State law prohibits indoor tanning for persons under 17 and requires parental consent for those between 17 and 18.
The law also requires that tanning salons provide their customers with information sheets about the hazards of tanning, along with acknowledgement forms. In addition, protective eyewear must be made available for free.
A statement from the Attorney General’s Office said that Total Tan’s website minimized the risks of indoor tanning and claimed that it was a good source of vitamin D, which would help treat and prevent diseases such as asthma, cancer, heart disease and Alzheimer’s disease.
“Indoor tanning is neither a safe nor a desirable way to obtain vitamin D or any other health benefits,” the statement added. “Vitamin D can safely be obtained through diet and supplements, so obtaining vitamin D through indoor tanning poses unnecessary risks.”
The statement noted that investigators visited several Total Tan salons and were told by employees that indoor tanning would damage the skin only if it were “excessive.” The investigators also determined that Total Tan failed to provide protective eyewear for no extra cost.
Schneiderman’s office began investigating misleading claims by indoor tanning providers in 2013. The agreement with Total Tan is the fourth settlement to be reached. A lawsuit against a fifth tanning salon franchise is pending.