This blog is intended to go along with Population: An Introduction to Concepts and Issues, by John R. Weeks, published by Cengage Learning. The latest edition is the 13th (it will be out in January 2020), but this blog is meant to complement any edition of the book by showing the way in which demographic issues are regularly in the news.

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Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Health vs Profits in the Tanning Industry

A lot of money has been made over the years selling products/services that are bad for your health. Tobacco is the single best example of that, of course. The tanning industry is another good example. The scientific evidence is very powerful that exposure to ultraviolet rays--whether from the sun or from artificial sources like suntanning beds--increases your chance of cancer, especially melanoma which is very deadly. Nonetheless, if you have invested your money in providing those services to others, you have a vested interest in denying the validity of scientific findings, and that is exactly what the industry is doing, according to a story on
The creation last month of the tanning association, made up of 1,400 salon owners, steps up the $5 billion industry’s campaign to defend itself against mounting evidence of the harms caused by indoor tanning. Already, industry members have mounted an extraordinary effort to portray doctors and other health authorities as conspiring to unnecessarily scare the public about tanning, as FairWarning reported in August.
The tanning association describes its strategy in a document bearing its letterhead that was posted last month on TanToday, an online industry forum: “Promoting the indoor tanning industry will require retention of scientists throughout the world to help us debunk the scientific reports being used against us, and a major PR and lobbying campaign to bring the truth about indoor tanning to the government and to the public at large.”
Even before the new group formed, the industry was trying to prevent states and local governments from passing laws making it illegal for teens to tan indoors. At least 30 states already have imposed some limits on teen tanning and Vermont and California ban anyone under age 18 from using a sunbed.
The industry has argued that tanning is a good source of Vitamin D, which is created by the body in response to UV light. It blames dermatologists for scaring people about exposure to the sun and inducing an epidemic of vitamin D deficiency in the process.
All of this is familiar to anyone who has followed the battle against smoking and common sense suggests that the result will eventually be that people no longer will think that being tan is cool, just as smoking is no longer cool. You can do it at your own risk--but then don't ask the public to pay your medical bills later on...

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