The Tanning Bed Industry and the Tobacco Industry: Ethical Sisters Essay Sample

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The Tanning Bed Industry and the Tobacco Industry: Ethical Sisters? The tanning industry and has a service to provide for monetary compensation. The industry and shop owners have an interest to protect. Their livelihood, loans to repay, franchise agreements to honor, human resource obligations to pay, and taxes to pay. The industry association and tanning business networks have a plan to further their business (Huber, 2012). The following content will discuss those practices and similarities to tobacco industry practices. Clearly Define the Issue

The tanning industry makes their money from a service that reportedly could be hazardous to the consumer (Huber, 2012). This product is tanning beds that use ultra violet (UV) light to help their consumers become tan and produce vitamin D. The ethical dilemma arises from evidence that UV exposure may cause some types of cancer. Despite these possible hazards the industry continues to claim healthy benefits from using their service. The tanning industry accuses dermatologist and other agencies of either lying, getting paid from other companies, or lacking enough evidence to prove that their service is causative. The industry is also training their employees on what they can say when they are at work and what to tell their friends and family when they are off the clock. They are using their employees as a form of advertisement. They propagate doubt in the minds of possible customers about the possible risks of using tanning beds. The tanning industry appears to be unconcerned that their product could be harming their customers. Basis of the Issue

At 4.9 billion dollars the tanning industry cannot afford to lose customers with claims of cancer risks not proven to be 100 % true. Vitamin D issues are also mixed in the controversy. “Scientists have proven, however, that exposure to all forms of ultraviolet light – both indoors and out – stimulates the natural production of vitamin D” (Huber, 2012, para. 21). Humans require vitamin D to help metabolize calcium and phosphorus. It also helps regulate the immune system (Nordqvist, 2012). The Tanning industry also works with physicians and self-styled health experts who promote that Americans suffer from an epidemic of vitamin D deficiency that puts them at risk for serious health problems. Skin cancer scientists have claimed that indoor tanning is 74% riskier than natural tanning for causing and developing melanoma and other types of skin cancers. Skin cancer risks and the topic of vitamin D are the issues.

Which side has the best ethically driven motives? Trevino and Nelson (2007) raise awareness of social responsibility and business conduct. The tobacco industry has been in campaigns of public relations versus social responsibility. In their textbook Christians, Fackler, & Richardson (2012) suggest media and public relations are on a tough road filled with pot holes. Wheeling around potholes could avoid problems or steer head long into others. The road ahead could be smooth or rougher. Both sides of the issue are trying to win the campaign of public relations and social responsibility. Ground Rules that Manifested the Situation

The grounds used by the tanning industry are manifested by publishing contradictory reports and dissuasive publications. In 2005 policy makers considered enacting a bill that would prohibit minors under the age of 18 from indoor tanning facilities. This enraged the tanning companies. They perceived they were under attack similar to besieged tobacco companies, so they looked for some type of proof to push back against the negative feedback. Tanning companies put out information about their tanning machines, saying the tanning booths are a timer tanning machine that minimizes the risk for sunburns and overexposures. The problem with the information that the companies were putting out were half true similar to what sister tobacco companies have done. The tanning industry saw that profits margins were negatively impacted by the information the opposition was being put out.

To counter they hired the same lobbyists as the tobacco companies hired to push back against the opposition. The tanning companies have gotten into bed with the tobacco companies to help fight against Congress and any bills related to taxes on the company’s profits. In 2010 there was a tax levied on the industry. Currently, no major bills to prohibit tanning booths are being drafted. However, the industry has seen what happened to tobacco companies and the tanning industry is not willing to lose the battle. Tanning industry associations are using lobbyist to prevent any laws that would prevent them from making profits even if it hurts the consumers using their services (Levy, 2012). Ethical Conflict

The World Health Organization International Agency for Cancer and dermatologists started doing research on skin cancer and discovered the tanning machines were causing skin cancer just like the rays from the sun. The impetus for a war campaign of words began against the tanning industry. They started looking into the research that was done against their tanning services. The tanning companies perceived they were being attacked by dermatologist, scientist, and the World Health Organization. Proof was discovered and links to three types of cancers: basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and melanoma related to UV exposure. The cancers mainly afflict the younger users under the ages of 30 (Levy, 2012). Ethical Systems

The employees in this scenario are the members/owners of the tanning salon business industry, the store or franchise owners. The managers and executives are the association leaders. The ethical system for these key individuals are providing a safe service and tanning experience for consumers at a profit. The employee’s ethical system values encouraging customers to return and to have customers leave with a positive experience that enhances word of mouth and customer relations. Employees value profits after paying bills and expenses. They value having a business model and practice that keeps the door open for the future. The association manager’s ethical system is obligated to the goals and activities to promote employee/owner industry interests. The ethical system is skewed as are the interests of tobacco are skewed to promote tobacco interests. The managers have an ethical duty to achieve, develop, plan, and promote the tanning industry, their job. Organizational Leadership

The organizational leadership in the companies is the management. They are the ones in charge of training employees and making them into followers of their vision for the company and future. The role of management is to set the culture, tone, and direction of the company. In the article management put employees through training and video propaganda sessions. The promoted idea is tanning beds are a good source of vitamin D and can help against illnesses such as autism, breast cancer, bone loss, and heart disease. How did Ethical Behavior and Responsibility Differ between Employees and Management

Ethical behavior and responsibility differ between employees and management based on roles. Management’s responsibilities are to show their employees the direction, benefits, and provision of the tanning service. Also to get their employees to believe in their vision so that employees can reflect that belief to customers. Employees are to put into effect what they were trained and shown to do by management. The employees are the face representing the company every day. They are to reflect a correct and positive side so that customers will return and recommend the service. Employees must make sure they are providing a safe, pleasant, and positive service experience for customers to wish to return plus to recommend the company to friends and family. Revising the Ethical Standards to Resolve the Issue

Prescriptive and psychological plans can help the tanning industry over come ethical issues negatively influencing the market status of their services. The tanning industry needs to carry out more research to find evidences, develop practices, and develop products that could prove indoor tanning is a healthy and safe service (Huber, 2012). These activities will work as a short-term as well as long-term goal to argue back strongly against claims of the opposition. Additionally, all employees and leaders working within the industry need to gain more knowledge about the service they provide. A psychological approach to gain customer confidence and trust for the tanning services are stories by regular customers who have been benefited by tanning industry services. Campaigns showing positive changes in the industry that are being researched and practiced illustrate dedication, sincerity, and safeguards to and for consumers (Huber, 2012). At issue is the protectionist activities of the tanning industry and the oppositions’ issues related to the health risks of indoor tanning. The content has shown the issue and plans for revision of ethical system and practices. The link to the article follows: Embattled-tanning-industry-takes-its-cues-from-big-tobacco


Christians, C. G., Fackler, M., & Richardson, K. B. (2012). Media ethics. Cases and moral reasoning (9th ed.). Retrieved from The University of Phoenix eBook Collection database. Huber, B. (2012). Embattled tanning industry takes its cues from big tobacco. Retrieved from Levy, J. (2012). Smarttan Magazine. Retrieved from Nordqvist, C. (2012). Medical News Today.

Retrieved from Treviño, L. K., & Nelson, K. A. (2007). Managing business ethics: Straight talk about how to do it right (4th ed.). Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.

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