Tanning industry uses promos, cheap prices to lure adolescents and young adults, study finds

Everyone knows cigarette smoking causes cancer and as a result, prices and advertising are closely regulated to discourage youth from starting. But another cancer risk, indoor tanning, which has been shown to cause melanoma, lags in regulation. Researchers at the Colorado School of Public Health have found that the tanning industry uses marketing strategies that appeal to adolescents and young adults, including unlimited tanning packages, discounts, and even offering free tanning when paired with other services like an apartment rental or gym membership.

“This study highlights the fact that a lot of businesses out there are providing this service at a low cost which removes a barrier to adolescents and young adults,” said Nancy Asdigian, lead author of the study and a Research Associate in the Department of Community and Behavioral Health at the Colorado School of Public Health. “Young people who want to tan do so when they can afford it and don’t when they can’t. The industry capitalizes on this with the strategies they use to price and promote this risk behavior.”

The study was published June 17, 2019 in the Journal of Public Health Policy.

According to the Global Burden of Disease Study, about 352,000 people worldwide were diagnosed with potentially deadly melanoma in 2015. That includes 81,000 cases in the U.S.

High profile public health and policy efforts along with state age restrictions have helped decrease the prevalence of indoor tanning among youth, but the study said levels remain ‘unacceptably high.’

Source: University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus. Adapted from an article in ScienceDaily.

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