Internet advertising of artificial tanning in Australia

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Abstract

Artificial tanning, defined as deliberate exposure to ultraviolet rays produced by artificial tanning devices, is a new and emerging public health issue in Australia and globally. Epidemiological research suggests that artificial tanning may contribute to the incidence of melanoma, nonmelanoma skin cancer as well as other health problems. Given that Australia has a high incidence of skin cancer, we have undertaken a study to explore how artificial tanning has been promoted to its users. The aim was to analyze the completeness and accuracy of information about artificial tanning. A content analysis of web sites of tanning salons and distributors of tanning equipment in Australia was conducted. A total of 22 web sites were analyzed. None of the solarium operators or distributors of equipment provided full information about the risks of artificial tanning. Fifty-nine percent of web advertisements had no information and 41% provided only partial information regarding the risks of artificial tanning. Pictures with the image of bronze-tanned bodies, predominantly women, were used by all web advertisers. In light of the success of sun-safety campaigns in Australia, the findings of future epidemiological research on the prevalence of artificial tanning and sociological and anthropological research on why people utilize artificial tanning should be a basis for developing effective targeted health promotion on the elimination of artificial tanning in the country.

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