tanning bed face thumb word Part I: The Tanning Tax

by KYW’s Mike Dunn

tanning bed 3 Part I: The Tanning Tax

Buried in the fine print of the recent federal health care reform bill is a tax on tanning salons aimed at raising billions.

When Mayor Nutter tried taxing sodas, he was trying to preach good health as well as raise millions of much-needed dollars.  That proposal failed here, but full steam ahead at the federal level is another health “sin tax” — a ten-percent tax on tanning salon services that takes effect July 1st.

“It’s a way of not only deterring people that are doing this, but also there’s a societal cost to going to a tanning booth.”

That’s Dr. Eric Bernstein, a prominent Ardmore dermatologist who is convinced that artificial tanning services pose health risks that include increased risk of skin cancer.  So he hopes this new tanning tax will steer people away:

“The revenue from the tax hopefully will find its way into medical care for those types of the things that result, like skin cancer for example.”

Congress estimates that the tanning tax of ten percent will bring in $2.7 billion over the next decade, although that prediction has been questioned by others as overly optimistic.

But tanning salons owners are fuming:

“Sixty percent of tanning salons are owned by women, so it’s going to crush female-owned businesses.”

That’s the owner of one center city Philadelphia tanning salon who asked not to be named:

“They’re already regulated by the FDA.  Yet they’re just going to get socked with this gigantic tax, which doesn’t serve any immediate purpose.”

And a national association of tanning salons says the new tax will cause the closure of one thousand salons across the country.

As for customers, who usually pay $20-30 per tanning session, many don’t seem to mind forking over another ten percent for their year-round rays.

(Tanning customer:)  “I’m not opposed to it.  I feel as though everything is taxed, so I think it’s fine.  It really doesn’t affect me that much.”

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