What’s The “Tanning Tax” And How Will It Affect Your Pasty-Looking Skin?

Beginning on July 1, President Obama’s health care reform bill will impose a 10 percent tax on all indoor tanning services. Congress claims the tanning tax will raise $2.7 billion over the next decade for health care costs.

But that’s not all the government is up to: Today the Food and Drug Administration is meeting to discuss even more restrictions on tanning.The FDA will consider several restrictions on tanning, including reclassifying which category of “medical devices” tanning beds fall under. Currently, tanning beds are Class 1 medical devices that are considered low-risk, like tongue depressors. But a reclassification of tanning beds as Class 2 medical devices would require the manufacturers to provide more info about the beds before they hit salons, Business Week reported. The FDA will also consider requiring customers to sign forms that explain the risks of tanning beds

One of the most significant changes, however, could be putting more restrictions on minors from using tanning beds, including requiring parental consent. (Obviously, this won’t help teenagers like 18-year-old Katie Donnar of Vincennes, Indiana, who told ABC News her mother bought her a personal tanning bed when Donnar began competing in beauty pageants. Last year, Donnar was diagnosed with melanoma, the most deadly form of skin cancer.) Such a change could literally save young women’s lives. The Journal of American Dermatology says almost three quarters of the 30 million indoor tanners are young women between the ages of 16 and 29. And according to an analysis of skin cancer studies concluded by the World Health Organization last summer, the rate of melanoma increases 75 percent in people who used tanning beds in their teens and 20s.

Unsurprisingly, owners of tanning salons are pissed off about the tanning tax. But they are, of course, small business owners who see the issue from a financial angle, not a health angle. My favorite dopey quote from a salon owner goes to Angela Gillard, manager of Tropical Sun Tanning, who told WALB:

“A lot of the customers want to know what they’re going to tax next, the sun? If we’re under the sun a certain amount of time are they going to tax us for that?”

Unintentionally hilarious.

Anyway, the Executive Director of the Indoor Tanning Association, John Overstreet, has told Business Week, “The science is all over the place” on the link between tanning and skin cancer and seems optimistic salons will be able to continue their practices like before. But, hey, the cigarette companies were not too happy, either, when the government began regulating them, either.

[PR Newswire: Statement From The American Academy of Dermatology On The Indoor Tanning Tax]
[BusinessWeek: “FDA Weighs In To Curb Tanning Bed Cancer Risks”]
[ABC News: “Keeping Teens Out Of Tanning Beds”]
[WALB.com: “Health Care Bill Brings A New Tax On Tanning”]
[WCAX.com: “Salon Owners Feel Burned By Tanning Tax”]