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Beach Bum Tanning to stop targeting teens under settlement

Beach Bum and its parent company agreed to

Beach Bum and its parent company agreed to stop targeting young people with prom and exam-time specials under an April 1, 2016, settlement with the New York State attorney general's office. Credit: NYS attorney general

A major tanning chain with branches on Long Island has agreed to stop targeting teens and suggesting that tanning prevents cancer under a settlement the company signed last week with the New York State attorney general’s office.

Beach Bum Tanning, which has six Island locations, and its parent company, Salon Management, also agreed to pay a fine of $20,000 and stop making health claims but admitted no guilt in the matter.

Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman’s office had accused the company of directing consumers to websites of groups that made false statements about tanning or exaggerated the benefits of the practice. This included claims that ultraviolet light can retard or prevent certain cancers and that only a minority of studies showed UV rays caused skin cancer.

The settlement, signed Friday, also bars the company from marketing to high school students after investigators found the company used incentives and social-media tactics to attract teenage clients.

It is illegal in New York to provide indoor tanning services to anyone under 17, and 17- and 18-year-olds can only tan with their parents’ written consent.

In one practice, investigators said the company would tweet about celebrities such as Snooki who are popular among young people, asking: “Are you getting enough vitamin D to prevent cancer?” investigators said.

The company also displayed prom or exam-time discounts for spray tans — which do not involve UV light and are legal for teenagers — next to “all-access pass” offers that included time in tanning beds, authorities said.

The attorney general’s office said its investigators examined at least one Beach Bum location on the Island.

The tanning company had stopped these practices in 2013, shortly after the attorney general’s office began its investigation into the company’s advertising strategies.

James Oliver, chief executive of Salon Management, based in Parsippany, New Jersey, said he agreed to the deal after growing tired of the legal battle.

“We have spent over $250,000 trying to defend ourselves,” Oliver said. “We have given up spending money. They have much deeper pockets then we do and we have to get back to operating our salons.”

He called Beach Bum a “safe business” that follows the law.

Schneiderman said indoor tanning and getting tans early in life increase the risk of getting skin cancer.

“Today’s agreement is part of a continuing effort to protect consumers from the documented skin cancer risks of indoor tanning,” he said in a news release. “Indoor tanning salons should not make misleading health claims when there are rising cancer rates associated with indoor tanning, particularly for young people.”

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