Study: Tanning ads similar to smoking ads

Feb. 25, 2010 at 11:10 PM
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NEWTON, Mass., Feb. 25 (UPI) -- U.S. dermatologists say the tanning industry uses misleading ad tactics similar to those used by smoking advertisers.

Dr. David Jones, in private practice in Newton, Mass., and colleagues report in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology that their review of 2,000 advertisements from four large tobacco advertising image databases and 350 tanning advertisements found several shared strategies used.

For instance, both tanning and smoking ads often mitigate health concerns. They sometimes recruit physicians as allies in reassuring the public that a particular brand had competitive health advantages and compliment the consumer for making a "safer" choice.

Strategies used in both tanning and smoking ads include appealing to a sense of social acceptance, emphasizing psychotrophic effects and targeting specific population segments.

"Even though it is well documented that ultra-violet radiation from natural sunlight and indoor tanning devices is a known cause of skin cancer, the public is not always aware of the serious health risks associated with indoor tanning -- and the tanning industry's advertising practices capitalize on this fact," Jones said in a statement.

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