Eric Schneiderman for Attorney General

Total Tan agrees not to misrepresent health risks of indoor tanning

August 16, 2016

As published on Syracuse.com on August 10, 2016.

New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and Total Tan Inc. have reached a settlement of Schneiderman’s lawsuit alleging the business misrepresented the cancer risks of indoor tanning.

Under a settlement approved by New York Supreme Court Justice Alice Schlesinger, Total Tan is prohibited from making “health misrepresentations” and from failing to comply with state tanning regulations, Schneiderman said.

The business agreed to pay a $5,000 fine per day for any future health misrepresentations and $500 for each future violation of state tanning laws, he said.

“Today’s agreement is part of our continuing efforts to protect consumers from the documented skin cancer risks of indoor tanning,” he said in a statement Wednesday. “I am especially concerned with rising cancer rates associated with indoor tanning, particularly for young people.”

Brian Mahoney, an attorney representing Total Tan, issued a statement saying the company made no admission of wrongdoing as part of the settlement, will pay no fine or penalty, and “feels vindicated by this resolution.”

“Total Tan is a proud, small, upstate, family-owned business that conducts itself in an honest and professional manner,” he said. “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.”

Schneiderman said Total Tan’s website featured a number of claims that downplayed the risks of indoor tanning, including representations that the “risks associated with UV light have been overstated and the benefits ignored” and that indoor tanning “is the smartest way to maximize the potential benefits of sun exposure while minimizing the potential risks.”

The business also claimed that indoor tanning helps treat and prevent an array of diseases, including heart disease, asthma, cancer and Alzheimer’s disease, he said.

Investigators from the attorney general’s office who visited a number of Total Tan salons were told by employees that indoor tanning would only damage the skin if it were “excessive,” he said. The investigators also found that Total Tan violated state tanning laws by failing to provide protective eyewear at no additional cost, he said.

Total Tan has 25 locations across Upstate New York and three in Pennsylvania. According to the company’s website, it has three locations in Central New York — in Auburn, DeWitt and North Syracuse.

According to the American Cancer Society, indoor tanning, just like sun tanning, exposes skin to ultraviolet (UV) rays, the cause of most skin cancer, including deadly melanoma.

In April, Schneiderman reached a similar settlement in April with Salon Management USA LLC, which licenses the “Beach Bum Tanning” trademark under which Beach Bum Tanning salons operate, and BBT Retail Inc. Under that settlement, the businesses are prohibited from making health claims, offering “unlimited” tanning packages and targeting high school students.

Schneiderman still has a lawsuit pending against Portofino Spas LLC alleging the franchise engaged in false advertising by, among other things, denying or minimizing scientific evidence linking tanning to an increased cancer risk.