New indoor tanning tax unfair, salons say
It's meant to help pay for health-care reform and deter skin cancer.
By KIM ARCHER World Staff Writer
Published: 7/2/2010 2:22 AM
Last Modified: 7/2/2010 4:49 AM
The nation's indoor tanning industry was unfairly targeted when Congress imposed a 10 percent tax on its services as a way to help pay for the federal health-care reform bill, several Tulsa-area tanning salon owners say.
The tax went into effect Thursday and is expected to raise $2.7 billion toward a $940 billion health-care overhaul.
At first, the tax was aimed at the cosmetic surgery industry. But it was transformed at the last minute into what is known as the "tanning tax" in an effort to prevent skin cancer.
Tabetha Folds, who owns Second Sun Tanning Salon, 4715 E. 11th St., said the last-minute decision to tax tanning salons was "a random choice" because her industry wouldn't put up as big a fight as other groups. She pointed out that fast-food restaurants pose a more immediate risk to health.
"What about those $1 menus?" she asked. "A person can get those fatty foods faster and cheaper. High cholesterol and obesity are a major problem."
Peggy Hague, who co-owns Totally Tan, 8226 S. Lewis Ave., said the levy is discriminatory against women. She and her husband, Joe Hague, also have a Broken Arrow location.
"It's very discriminatory," she said. "The largest percentage of tanning salons are owned by women. Women are the largest percentage of customers, and most are white women. So now you are discriminating against white women."
Hague said the industry is going to fight to get the tax repealed through its national group, the Indoor Tanning Association.
Lawmakers overlooked the positive health effects of indoor tanning, such as increasing vitamin D exposure, tanning salon owners said.
"Vitamin D deficiency has become a recognized epidemic in North America," Folds said.
Research suggests that low levels of Vitamin D, which is a hormone, are associated with an increased risk of death from cardiovascular disease, cognitive impairment in older adults, severe asthma in children and cancer.
But the American Academy of Dermatology said people should get Vitamin D through a healthy diet, noting that indoor tanning is associated with a 75 percent increase in the risk of melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer.