FTC Charges Marketer of Suntanning Devices
Falsely Claimed Its Products Do Not Increase
the Risk of Skin Cancer or Aging

Consent Agreement Prohibits False and Unsubstantiated Claims

FTC News Release
January 27, 1988

The Federal Trade Commission has charged a major marketer of artificial tanning devices with falsely claiming that its products do not pose the risk of skin aging or skin damage, including the risk of skin cancer. A consent agreement issued today for public comment prohibits The Silver Group Inc. from misrepresenting the safety of its products.

Silver sells tanning devices and related products, including tanning beds, facial units, and overhead lamp systems. The company's tanning devices use lamps emitting ultraviolet radiation to cause tanning of the user's skin.

According to the FTC staff, Silver markets its products—primarily under the trade name Silver Solarium—to tanning salons, health clubs, and beauty parlors as well as to individuals. Silver advertises its products in national magazines, such as Gentleman's Quarterly, Playboy, and Shape, and in fitness and beauty salon publications and airline in-flight magazines.

According to an FTC complaint issued with the consent agreement, in its ads and in literature Silver made claims such as: "New way to tan indoors with absolutely no harmful side effects associated with the sun." Other ads claimed "Safer than the sun!" and "Absolutely no burning, no drying and no sun damage," the complaint stated.

The complaint charged that these claims are false. In addition, the complaint charged, Silver falsely claimed it had reliable scientific evidence for its claims.

In fact, according to the complaint, Silver's products cannot be used without the risk of any harmful side effect associated with the sun, and their use can increase the risk of developing skin cancer and can contribute to skin aging. The consent agreement prohibits the company from misrepresenting, directly or by implication, that its devices do not pose for users a risk of any harmful side effect associated with sun exposure.

In addition, the consent agreement requires the company to have reliable and competent scientific evidence for any health or safety claim it makes in any advertisement.

For one year after the consent is made final, Silver must include the following statement in any ads and promotional materials for its tanning devices, "NOTICE — Read the mandatory FDA warning label found on every tanning machine for important information on potential eye injury, skin cancer, skin aging and photosensitive reactions." After the first year, the company must include that statement in any ads that claim its tanning device is safe or safer than other devices or other methods of tanning, or that the device has health benefits.

Silver is based in San Francisco and is a subsidiary of Silver Gruppen of Denmark.

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This page was posted on August 27, 2006.

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