NY Attorney General settles with fitness club over tanning practices


BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – Changes are coming to Planet Fitness gyms across the state. Upscale are members losing the benefit of unlimited tanning, due to health concerns.

New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman announced Tuesday Planet Fitness has agreed to improve its indoor tanning practices, due to health concerns, which Schneiderman said were not being sufficiently addressed.

The Attorney General said the agreement centered on warning fitness club users about the dangers of indoor tanning–a popular attraction, especially in New York’s climate–which health officials say, raises the risk of melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer.

All Planet Fitness clubs in New York will discontinue their promotion of unlimited tans to their upscale “Black Card” members, do a better job of training their staff that oversee the indoor tanning beds, and post more health warnings about indoor tanning.

Schneiderman said his investigators have been reviewing tanning practices of several fitness clubs across the state, “This agreement stems from our ongoing investigation that found that Planet Fitness was lax in training personnel about the dangers, and the health risks associated with indoor tanning.”

The agreement seems to raise awareness of indoor tanning dangers to a new level. Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the U.S. and government figures show skin cancer takes more lives than lung cancer, colon cancer, and breast cancer combined.

Erie County Health Commissioner, Dr. Gale Burstein, said there are no health benefits to indoor tanning–Planet Fitness has never made that claim–but there are plenty of serious risks.

“We know that it substantially increases the risk of all forms of skin cancer, including melanoma which can be a deadly form of skin cancer.”

Dr. George Paragh, who specializes in skin cancers at Roswell Park Cancer Institute, said his patients are getting younger and younger. Paragh also believes what makes tanning especially harmful, research has shown it can be addictive.

“We do know that actually indoor tanning induces endorphin release, so people feel good about it, so that actually promotes additional health risk behavior, because they go and they want to have more of it.”

The settlement applies to all of Planet Fitness’ clubs across New York, but the New Hampshire-based company issued a statement Tuesday saying the Attorney General red flagged a handful of privately owned franchises.

Planet Fitness denied advertising any health benefits that might be derived from indoor tanning, and paid $50,000 in fines and costs to the state. The Attorney General would not say which gyms they found lagging. There are three Planet Fitness gyms in the Buffalo area.

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