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Rep. Paul Gosar: The Government Wants to Join You in Bed — the Tanning Bed


We’ve been watching for some time how one federal agency or another wants to take away your freedom of choice. Usually your freedom is taken from you under the guise of “public safety,” but in reality most of the time it is simply someone who wants to stick their nose in your business because they don’t like what you may like.

While veterans go without care, illegals pour through the border and federal agencies continue to balloon in spending and size, the Food and Drug Administration has determined that its time and resources are best spent worrying about sun tan booths.   That’s right, ISIS is on the move, we have an unsustainable debt load, the global economy is flat, and the geniuses at the FDA decide the biggest problem we face is sun tanning.


I come from the land of the sun—Arizona. The benefits of sunlight are clear, from Vitamin D to simply heightened mood. But too much of the sun, like anything, can be bad. For those of you who do not live in a sunny climate like I do, you may choose sun tanning beds. These too can be beneficial or harmful, just like the sun. Nearly two-dozen states require teens to get parental permission before they can use an indoor tanning bed if not outright ban them all together.

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

It 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.

Experts say “sun exposure is beneficial in moderation, but can be harmful in excess.” And we all know that by using common sense. The threat of overexposure is one that is not unique to tanning beds; it can come from a day hike or day at the beach. Which begs the question, what is next on the FDA’s mission to police personal behavior? Soon will they ban sodas or better yet sofas for contributing to obesity? Will the FDA decide to pass regulations on how much television your teens and children can watch in your own homes? Why not ban candy and muffins and most Starbucks drinks while they are at it—each of which can have detrimental health risks.

“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. Of course a ban does none of this. Getting people information is one thing. Banning it altogether is another.

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.

Tanning, both indoors or out, has its own risks and benefits. There is a reason sun screen was invented. As a father, I understand the need to make sure underage tanners and their parents are aware of the healthcare risks associated with excessive tanning, which is why many states have already passed legislation to address the issue.

The federal government knows that all tanning across the board isn’t negative and that one size doesn’t fit all. 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.

An outright ban on tanning takes away your freedom of choice, treats people like serfs, and is disrespectful. Government policies like these leave no room for moderation, or for individuals to tailor their actions to their own individual needs. It usurps states rights and parental rights. The federal government has no business in your (tanning) bed. In short, it is an unnecessary intrusion by the federal government that should not be tolerated.

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

Congressman Paul Gosar is in his third term and represents the western half of Arizona from Kingman down to Yuma. When outside he wears sun block, a hat, and hydrates. And he does this all on his own without any laws or regulations.

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