We Are Sunshine

Salons and Smart Tan Succeed in Getting Defamatory Billboard Removed

Monday, July 6th, 2009

JULY 3, 2009 — The libelous billboard on a Peoria, Illinois freeway slamming indoor tanning lasted only two weeks after a group of Smart Tan member salons combined forces to get the board removed.

2009-07-03-down-she-goes-tanningnews-copy.jpgThe billboard — placed by an Illinois dermatology clinic — boldly proclaimed “Dying to Look Beautiful” and featured a picture of a skeleton in a tanning bed. The rest of the text on the billboard inaccurately stated, “Women who frequent tanning parlors have a greater incidence of melanoma.”

The board was changed June 30 — about two weeks after it went up, Smart Tan member Karen Wimpy, owner of The Ultimate Tan, reported.

Smart Tan worked with Wimpy and Terri Gardner, owner of Reflections Tannery in Peoria, sending letters to Adams Outdoor Advertising’s operations director in Atlanta pointing out that:

  • Although most researchers believe UV and melanoma are related, no research has identified the causative mechanism behind the relationship
  • A major shortfall since melanoma is more common in indoor workers than in outdoor workers and occurs most frequently on parts of the body that don’t get regular sun exposure. Additionally, 18 of 22 studies ever conducted on indoor tanning and melanoma showed no statistically significant connection, including the largest and most recent study.
  • Additionally, some independent dermatopathology researchers believe that UV and melanoma are not related at all. Dr. Bernard Ackerman, recognized by the American Academy of Dermatology as a master dermatologist who is considered a pioneer in dermatology pathology — has written two books pointing out that no actual research connects UV and melanoma quantitatively.
  • Ironically the cosmetic dermatologist who placed the billboard — the Soderstrom Skin Institute — actually uses indoor tanning equipment to treat psoriasis, a cosmetic skin disorder that is never lethal. If the content on Soderstrom’s billboard were true, then Soderstrom would be guilty of that which they accuse indoor tanning facilities: of increasing women’s risk of melanoma in exchange for treating a non-lethal disease, which would violate the ‘never do harm’ provision of a physician’s Hippocratic Oath.

Gardner also hand-delivered the letters, which called for the billboard to be removed on the grounds that it is inaccurate and libelous to their businesses, to the clinic and to Adams’ Peoria office.