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Indoor tanning promotions on social media in six US cities #UVTanning #tanning

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Translational Behavioral Medicine


There is no research investigating indoor tanning advertising on social media. We assessed the use of social media to promote indoor tanning. We subscribed to social media platforms in six US cities and content-analyzed promotional messages received. We captured 662 messages on Twitter and Facebook, through salon emails, and in daily deal coupons. Salon postings were most frequent on Twitter and Facebook, with an average of 2–3 postings per week. National chains posted more frequently than local businesses. Forty percent of messages were devoid of tanning content and included photos, jokes, or popular references. Thirty percent mentioned price reductions, and 28 % referenced an upcoming holiday. Sunless tanning (17 %) was promoted more often than ultraviolet tanning (9 %). Tanning salons actively use social media as a strategy for maintaining relationships with customers and offer pricing deals that promote loyalty and high-frequency tanning.

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  1. The use of trade names within this paper is for identification purposes only and does not imply endorsement by the Department of Health and Human Services.

  2. We selected only four indoor tanning salons in Akron because we were unable to identify five that met our inclusion criteria.

  3. We used Tweets to evaluate content differences by salon chain status because the data collection period for Twitter was longer than that for Facebook.


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This research was supported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Division of Cancer Prevention and Control, Prevention Research Center grant number U48DP001938-0451 to Lori A. Crane.

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Correspondence to Lori A. Crane.

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Conflict of interest

The authors have no competing or conflicting interests to disclose. The findings and conclusions in this report are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official position of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Adherence to ethical principles

This article does not contain any studies with human participants or animals performed by any of the authors.

Additional information


Practice: Public health practitioners should explore the use of social media to reach and engage young audiences and promote norms that discourage indoor tanning and other forms of high-risk ultraviolet exposures among adolescents and young adults.

Policy: Policy makers at the local, state, and national level need to be informed about the advertising strategies used by the tanning industry in order to develop effective public policies to reduce skin cancer risk.

Research: Research is needed to determine how young adults are accepting tanning advertisements on Internet channels and how this affects their tanning behavior.

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Table 5 Social media terminology

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Ricklefs, C.A., Asdigian, N.L., Kalra, H.L. et al. Indoor tanning promotions on social media in six US cities #UVTanning #tanning. Behav. Med. Pract. Policy Res. 6, 260–270 (2016).

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