Gov’t Spends $1.3M To Push Ban On Indoor Tanning in Tennessee

Eric Scheiner | April 27, 2017
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The National Institutes of Health have spent $1,347,939 of taxpayer money on a project that uses social media to encourage Tennessee mothers to support a ban on indoor tanning for teens and adolescents.

Klein Buendel Inc. of Golden, Colorado was awarded the funds for its "Likes, Pins And Views: Engaging Moms On Teen Indoor Tanning Thru Social Media" project, which has a budget end date on May, 31st 2017.

According to the NIH project abstract, “A social media campaign will be delivered to mothers with adolescent daughters designed to convince them not to allow their daughters to indoor tan (IT) in a state where IT restrictions have an exception for parental consent.”

In this project, the state is Tennessee. A major goal is not just to see if the social media messaging is effective at discouraging adolescent indoor tanning, it encourages moms to support a complete ban on IT and send the message to lawmakers.

“Tennessee requires parental permission for minors to indoor tan. The IT messages will be delivered to mothers through an integrated social media campaign using Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Pinterest, and Instagram over two school years (18 months),” according to the project description.

“Mothers' support for a complete ban on IT by minors will be objectively assessed by asking them to take actions to advocate for a ban to their state legislators (i.e., sign a petition, send a letter/meeting request, volunteer to attend a hearing). Secondary aims are to analyze potential moderators (e.g., mother/daughter characteristics; mothers' political ideology) and mediation of campaign effectiveness by theoretical concepts and campaign engagement.”

Will the project be effective? Will the federal funds spent on social media influence a change in law on a state issue? Will the project lower the risk of developing melanoma? Will we learn how a mother’s political ideology impacts her decision on whether to let her daughter use an indoor tanning bed? Could it take even more taxpayer money to fund this project?

It may be awhile before we know the answers to those questions, as the project end date is currently listed as May 31, 2020.

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