Mom & Pop’s Selling Cancer
The recent Congressional report on the way tanning salons market to teenagers is disturbing on a number of levels, though not particularly surprising. This is, after all, just the latest in a long line of stories about misleading and manipulative tactics from the indoor tanning industry.
Four years ago, the news show 20/20 sent people with hidden cameras into salons and filmed staff making false health claims, pushing clients to ignore the industry’s self-imposed limits on tanning, and minimizing the risks of indoor tanning. The District Attorney in Texas filed a lawsuit against the DarqueTan salon chain for making false health claims.
When you hear the tanning industry tell the story, these salons are “mom and pop” establishments – honest small businesses just trying to make a living. Yet, it’s hard to get around the fact that their business is built on lies and misinformation.
Some of this, I suspect, is a simple matter of employees not realizing what they are doing. Many of these staff are in their teens or in their early 20’s, working for low pay and likely using the equipment themselves. They parrot to young customers the lies they’ve heard from their bosses, and give little thought to the consequences of their words or actions.
Others may truly believe that tanning is good for your health. They are supported in this fantasy by a handful of dubious experts who are often financially conflicted on this issue (often hocking their own “safer” tanning lamps) or who deem themselves experts on healthy living.
People who own tanning salons make their living doing one thing—peddling a cancer causing agent. To accept that this is so would mean, for anyone with a sense of ethics, giving up their business and livelihood. So, of course they believe the quacks or the supposed “natural living” experts.
Tanning beds are dangerous. Increasingly, the evidence is showing that tanning can be addictive. How does it feel, I wonder, to know that you have built your life in such a business?