Tanning Bed Tax Has Little Impact

by: cancercompass

In 2010, a 10 percent federal tax was imposed upon tanning salons as part of the U.S. Affordable Care Act. The tax officially went into effect on July 1, 2010, and a new study has found that it had little impact in terms of keeping away from tanning beds, which the World Health Organization officially classifies as a human carcinogen.

The point of the tax was to make money while highlighting the notion that tanning can lead to skin cancer, similarly to the tax on tobacco products. According to a study printed in the Archives of Dermatology, the tax hasn’t been successful at deterring people from visiting tanning salons. Dr. June Robinson, a research professor of dermatology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago, found that 80 percent of the salons do not absorb the price of the tax, and despite this the same amount of customers visit salons now as did before the tax was enacted.

As someone who grew up with red hair and a history of skin cancer in the family, the mere thought of visiting a tanning salon is ludicrous. I wear sunscreen in my daily moisturizer, and happily spent a trip to the Dominican Republic hiding under an umbrella in a long-sleeved shirt while enjoying the beach. Some may think that tanning indoors is safer than lounging under the sun, but it has become abundantly clear that this isn’t the case. Additionally, it's remarkable that in Los Angeles, where residents enjoy an average of 329 days of sunshine a year, there is a tanning salon on every block.

I am all for imposing a small tax on tanning salons to make money for government initiatives, but I don’t believe that we need to spend money or energy proposing a full on war against tanning salons. With cigarettes, the negative effects reach much further, as second-hand smoke is dangerous to outside observers. However, people who tan regularly are only hurting themselves. Perhaps a pamphlet should be passed out to everyone who enters the salon informing them of the risks, after which if the patron still wants to push forward then what business of it is mine?

In case you or a loved one still isn’t sure if visiting tanning beds is a good idea, here are some important facts from the Skin Cancer Foundation:

  • The International Agency for Research on Cancer includes ultraviolet (UV) tanning devices in a list of the most dangerous cancer-causing substances, along with plutonium, cigarettes and solar UV radiation.
  • Ten minutes in a sunbed matches the cancer-causing effects of 10 minutes in the Mediterranean summer sun.
  • Indoor ultraviolet (UV) tanners are 74 percent more likely to develop melanoma than those who have never tanned indoors.
  • People who use tanning beds are 2.5 times more likely to develop squamous cell carcinoma and 1.5 times more likely to develop basal cell carcinoma.
  • Frequent tanners using new high-pressure sunlamps may receive as much as 12 times the annual UVA dose compared to the dose they receive from sun exposure.
  • Each year there are more new cases of skin cancer than the combined incidence of cancers of the breast, prostate, lung and colon.

If you really want to alter the beautiful natural tone of your skin, how about looking into some sunless self tanner?