Ken Paxton

Monday, November 10, 2008

Attorney General Charges Tanning Salon Operators With Conducting Unlawful Marketing Campaign

AUSTIN Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott today charged Houston-based tanning salon operators with conducting an unlawful marketing campaign. According to the state’s enforcement action, Darque Tan’s advertising materials unlawfully claim that their indoor tanning beds can increase levels of Vitamin D in the body and therefore reduce the risk of cancer. The defendants’ Vitamin D cancer-risk reduction claims prompted the Texas Department of State Health Services to open an investigation and refer the case to the Office of the Attorney General.

Today’s enforcement action names Darque Tan, L.L.C., Segler Enterprises, Ltd., and company president Robbie Segler as defendants. Also named are Monica and Jason Jones, who operate two Darque Tan facilities in San Antonio.

Under state and federal law, the defendants’ tanning beds are only approved for cosmetic tanning. However, advertising materials published by the defendants and online videos suggest that their tanning beds deliver high levels of Vitamin D to the body, which the defendants claim reduces customers’ chances of contracting cancer, including breast cancer.

The state’s enforcement action charges the defendants with violating the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act, as well as various Texas Health and Safety Code laws. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has not approved tanning beds as Vitamin D delivery devices or devices that reduce cancer risks. Any advertisements for these unapproved uses are false and violate state law.

Under the Texas Health and Safety Code, tanning salons are prohibited from claiming that indoor tanning devices provide any health or medical benefits. The state’s enforcement action also cites the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act (DTPA), which prohibits deceptive advertising.

The Attorney General seeks injunctions to halt the misleading practices and return money paid in good faith by consumers who may have been misled. The office seeks civil penalties of up to $20,000 per violation of the DTPA, as well as $25,000 per day for each violation of the Health and Safety Code.