The federal government is joining the almost two dozen states seeking more regulation on tanning beds - especially for minors.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) currently regulates tanning beds and sun lamps, but they have recently proposed a plan that would require more restrictions on thier use and oversight in the devices sold to customers. The new proposal also states that these devices should not be used by people under age 18, adding the federal government to the list of 20 or so states seeking restriction on the use of tanning beds for minors.

According to the new proposal, the FDA would require a cancer warning label on pamphlets, catalogues and websites that promote indoor tanning. Manufacturers of these products would also now have to meet new safety and design requirements, including timers and limits on radiation emitted.

At this time, tanning beds and sunlamps are regulated by the FDA, but they are classified as low-risk devices which lumps them in the same category as bandages and tongue depressors. The new FDA proposal would change their classification to moderate-risk, or class II, devices and this would allow the agency to regulate their safety features and design before manufacturers begin selling them.

The FDA proposal would also call for the use of a warning label - not on the tanning beds themselves - but on related promotional material and websites that would inform potential tanners about the cancer risks associated with tanning beds.

Why the tougher stance on tanning beds? The FDA is taking aim at melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, which has been on the rise for about 30 years. Recent studies have shown that indoor tanning raises a person's risk of developing melanoma by 75 percent. While most cases are diagnosed in people in their 40s and 50s, the disease is linked to the type and amount of sun exposure a person had at a young age.

The FDA will take comments on its new proposal for 90 days before developing a final regulation.

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