Health Bill Imposes Tax on Tanning Beds

March 25, 2010 12:00:00 AM PDT
The passage of the new health care bill turns up the heat on tanning salons across the country. To help fund the $940-billion-dollar overhaul: a ten-percent tax was tacked onto indoor tanning services. Right now the tanning industry feels like its being hit with a one-two punch: not only are they facing a new 10 percent tax, the F.D.A. may require new regulations; including skin cancer warnings on U.V. lamps.

Critics of tanning salons equate tanning with smoking. The Melanoma Research Foundation says exposure to U.V. rays in tanning beds before the age of 30 increases a person's risk of developing cancer by 75 percent. So some members of congress want to see warnings at tanning salons and beds that are similar to those on a pack of cigarettes. Lawmakers on Capitol Hill are discussing ways to regulate tanning beds and raise awareness of possible risks to melanoma.

"We are talking about public health, which is supported by science. There is no mystery or speculation. Tanning beds emit UV rays and UV rays cause cancer. It's very simple and deceptively dangerous. I've said it before and I'll say it again today. Tanning beds are the cigarettes of our time -- cancer causing and poorly regulated," said Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D) Connecticut.

"It's kind of one of those double edge swords. There is only so much you can do to protect yourself and the consumers there as well," said Cyndi Miller with Rayz Tanning Salon.

"I do believe it is a shame because we have such good customers and this is a healthy way to live your life in moderation. I don't think we should tax people for that," said Rayna McCormick with Rayz Tanning Salon.

While lawmakers consider stricter regulations, the new ten-percent tax is supposed to generate almost three billion dollars for the government to help pay for the cost of health care. The tax will go into effect July first. Other sunless tanning options such as spray tans and tanning lotions are not included in the tax.

Interestingly, the 10-percent tanning tax replaced a 5-percent cosmetic surgery tax that was originally included in the health care bill. The so-called "bo-tax" -- because it included Botox injections and breast implants -- was cut out of the bill after heavy lobbying from the industry.