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Tanning industry uses cheap prices, promos to attract young people

ANI | Updated: Jun 18, 2019 23:23 IST

Washington D.C. [USA], June 18 (ANI): Indoor tanning known to increase the risk of melanoma cancer lags in regulation while marketing strategies used by tanning industries lure adolescents and young adults, suggest a study.
The marketing strategies includes unlimited tanning packages, discounts, and even offering free tanning when paired with other services like an apartment rental or gym membership.
The study was published in the 'Journal of Public Health Policy'.
"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.
According to the Global Burden of Disease Study, about 352,000 people worldwide were diagnosed with potentially deadly melanoma in 2015.
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.'
The researchers posed as customers and contacted tanning facilities in Akron, Ohio, Denver, Colorado, Austin, Texas, Boston, Massachusetts, Portland, Oregon and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. These cities were selected because they represent a variety of climate and geography as well as a range of stringency of state indoor tanning laws.
Of the 94 tanning places they contacted, 54 were primary tanning salons, and 40 were 'secondary facilities' that offered indoor tanning secondary to some other service like hair styling or physical fitness.
The study found that indoor tanning was free at 35 per cent of secondary facilities. Nearly all apartments with tanning offered it free compared to 12 per cent of gyms. Free tanning was most common in Austin.
Nearly all primary tanning salons offered time-limited price reductions.
"Many provide promos geared toward young adults. They offer packages that incentivise more frequent tanning. The more you use them the cheaper tanning becomes," Asdigian said.
In some cases, an individual tanning session could cost as little as USD1 if the customer buys an unlimited monthly plan and uses it frequently.
Some countries, including Brazil and Australia, have banned indoor tanning salons altogether. The U.S. imposed a 10 per cent tax on indoor tanning in 2010 and 19 states and the District of Columbia have enacted complete bans on indoor tanning for those under age 18.
But few of these policies have focused on the advertising, promotions or pricing practices of these facilities.
"A next step is to work with policymakers to restrict the use of discounts and deals to lure customers," said Lori Crane, senior author of the paper.
Another strategy would be to eliminate tanning provided in apartment complexes and fitness centres where tanning services are often free and less likely to be licensed and inspected by local regulators.
Another step, Asdigian said, is to understand the connection between pricing and the use of indoor tanning. (ANI)