Indoor and Outdoor Tanning

Indoor and Outdoor Tanning

Guy et al. 2017 estimated that restricting indoor tanning among minors under 18 years old may prevent melanoma incidence and mortality and save millions of dollars in treatment costs in the United States. Subsequent international modeling studies accounting for more stringent indoor policies in the US, Canada, and Europe since 2018 estimate reduced skin cancer burden and reduced health care costs if indoor tanning were banned among minors or banned completely.

Reports indicate that age restriction laws have been associated with less indoor tanning, and teens who do not tan before age 18 are two to four times less likely to tan as adults. Several states have adopted laws restricting youth access to tanning beds, and the FDA has proposed a nationwide restriction for minors’ (under 18 years) access to tanning beds. Bowers et al, 2020 reported that indoor tanning rates among adults over age 18 also decreased in states that banned indoor tanning among minors as compared to adults in states without tanning restrictions for minors.

While reduction of indoor tanning is estimated to significantly reduce melanoma, outdoor sun exposure is the primary modifiable melanoma risk factor and includes intentional outdoor tanning and unintentional sun exposure. Among US adolescents, outdoor tanning (15.6%) appears to be more prevalent than indoor tanning (3%). The 2020 National Health Interview Survey provides the most recent intentional outdoor tanning data for US adults. Overall, 33.7% of US adults reported intentional outdoor tanning in the last 12-months, and outdoor tanning was more common among women (38.7%) than men (28.7%) and among adults aged under 25 years (45.1%) than those aged 25 years and over (32%), and among sun-sensitive adults (39.9%) than adults who are not sun-sensitive (29.2%).  Considering the context of sunburn, other data indicate, leisure pursuits near water, physical activity, and work around the home as the most frequent contexts of sunburn in addition to intentional outdoor tanning.

The percentage of high school students (grades 9-12) who reported use of an indoor tanning device such as a sunlamp, sunbed, or tanning booth (not counting receipt of a spray-on tan) one or more times during the 12 months before the survey.

The percentage of adults aged 18 years and older who have used an indoor tanning device one or more times during the past 12 months. Although NHIS-CCS also collected this data for adults in 2005 and 2008, the methodology used likely resulted in overestimates, and these data are not included in the report.

The percentage of adults aged 18 years and older who reported spending time outdoors for the purpose of developing a tan (i.e., always, most times, sometimes, or rarely) during the past 12 months

Note: 2020 data point included above; graph will be included when more data points become available.

Adolescents: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System (YRBSS), 2009–2019.

Adults: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Health Statistics. National Health Interview Survey NCI and CDC co-sponsored Cancer Control Supplement, 2010-2015. Outdoor tanning only available for 2020.

Refer to the Data Sources page for more information about data collection years 2019+.

There are no Healthy People 2030 targets regarding indoor or outdoor tanning.

Healthy People 2030 is a set of goals set forth by the Department of Health and Human Services.

UV Exposure and Sun-Protective Behavior