indoor UV tanning

A recent study investigated the way the indoor UV tanning industry prices and markets indoor tanning, calling for tighter restrictions and taxes similar to the tobacco industry.

Even though the link between indoor UV tanning and melanoma skin cancer is well established, customers continue to make use of this service. A study published in The Journal of Public Health Policy investigated the pricing and promotional practices of indoor tanning businesses in the United States.

Researchers contacted 94 tanning facilities, spanning six states. Of these 94 facilities, 54 were tanning salons, whose primary business was tanning, while 40 were businesses that offered indoor UV tanning in addition to their primary business (for example, fitness centres). The researchers discovered that some of the businesses that provided tanning as a secondary service did so for free. Monthly packages and promotions reduced the cost of tanning in some instances to as low as $1.50 per session. The concern, according to the researchers, is that such low prices make these services more accessible to young people who will use these services if they can afford them.

According to the lead author, the 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 … 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.”

Previous efforts such as age-restriction laws and public health communication strategies to reduce indoor UV tanning use, particularly in young people, have had positive results. However, the researchers suggest that in addition to these efforts, “interventions such as taxes, limits on free/ low-price tanning, and/or minimum pricing laws” should be established – similar to that seen with tobacco and alcohol.

Written by Deborah Tallarigo, PhD

Reference: Nancy L. Asdigian, Yang Liu, Joni A. Mayer, Gery P. Guy Jr., L. Miriam Dickinson, Lori A. Crane. The high costs of cheap tanning: pricing and promotional practices of indoor tanning facilities in six cities in the United States. Journal of Public Health Policy Published online, June 14, 2019.


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