What editorial writers are saying about the 10% tanning tax

Taxing indoor tanning bed sessions went into effect July 1. Many support the goal of cutting cancer, but others say it's unfair to small business.

Posted July 26, 2010.

Print  |   Email  |   Respond  |   Reprints  |   Like Facebook  |   Share Twitter  |   Tweet Linkedin

The tax was enacted as part of the health system reform law, both as a means to help pay for it (raising $2.7 billion over 10 years) and as an incentive to reduce tanning-bed use, which studies have linked to a higher incidence of melanoma.


The tax isn't meant only to generate revenue. ... Exposure to ultraviolet radiation from the sun or indoor tanning machines is the principal avoidable risk factor for developing melanoma and other skin cancers. Nevertheless ... the use of indoor tanning beds and outdoor sun-bathing continues to increase. ... Having a tan just isn't worth it. Courier-Journal (Louisville (Ky.), July 6

Tanning salons: Where the wealthy hide

Did you know that every American who uses a tanning bed has a family income of $250,000 a year or more? ... "I can make a firm pledge," candidate [Barack] Obama said ... in 2008. "Under my plan, no family making less than $250,000 a year will see any form of tax increase." ... We all know the great and benevolent President Obama would never lie to us. Therefore, it must be true that all tanning bed users earn at least $250,000 a year. Union Leader (Manchester, N.H.), July 5

The myth of the "healthy tan"

If you can tax tobacco, you can tax a tan. Both are legal. Both are personal indulgences. And both have been proven to cause cancer. ... The usual suspects are crying foul, of course. Tanning salons are pointing to potential job losses. They claim Botox is even more dangerous, but it sidestepped a tax. Nevertheless -- as with tobacco -- it's difficult to argue with science. ... People under 30 who use tanning machines bump their risk of skin cancer up 75%. And melanoma rates among young women tripled between 1973 and 2004. Deseret News (Salt Lake City), March 30

One day, two new taxes

It recently got more expensive to hurt yourself. South Carolina's 50-cents-a-pack cigarette tax hike went into effect at the beginning of the month, and so did the nation's 10% tax on tanning bed services. Melanoma, lung cancer and heart disease might have lost some of their edge. Or not. While some studies have suggested that smokers will cut back on their habit when prices go up, it's unclear that a tax will deter tan-hungry teens from paying for ultraviolet tanning sessions. Post and Courier (Charleston, S.C.), July 9

Forget damaged skin cells, tanning tax could hurt business

Compared to taxes on cigarettes, there's a critical difference in the tanning tax. Smoking is undeniably harmful to health, yet whether it's a convenience store or a gas station selling packs of smokes, cigarettes probably aren't the only product offered. Tanning salons might sell bottles of tanning lotion or a collection of skimpy swimwear on the side, but those precious moments under the ultraviolet lights will always be their main draw. Taxing the featured product puts a strain on any business, and this tax is sure to leave some businesses feeling burned. Pitt News (University of Pittsburgh), July 13

Tanning tax aims at reducing skin cancer

While tanning businesses and their customers lament the new tax, it's certainly not the first time America has taxed harmful habits. Tobacco has been taxed since the Civil War. ... And each time the tobacco tax increases, more people quit smoking, according to American Cancer Society research. ... Wyoming is becoming even stricter on tanning regulations. ... Children and teens under 18 must have written parental consent to use an ultraviolet tanning bed. ... Some residents feel burned by the federal tanning tax and the state's age requirements, but the long-term damage of ultraviolet-light exposure is more harmful than a new tax. Powell (Wyo.) Tribune, July 13

Back to top



Read story

Confronting bias against obese patients

Medical educators are starting to raise awareness about how weight-related stigma can impair patient-physician communication and the treatment of obesity. Read story

Read story


American Medical News is ceasing publication after 55 years of serving physicians by keeping them informed of their rapidly changing profession. Read story

Read story

Policing medical practice employees after work

Doctors can try to regulate staff actions outside the office, but they must watch what they try to stamp out and how they do it. Read story

Read story

Diabetes prevention: Set on a course for lifestyle change

The YMCA's evidence-based program is helping prediabetic patients eat right, get active and lose weight. Read story

Read story

Medicaid's muddled preventive care picture

The health system reform law promises no-cost coverage of a lengthy list of screenings and other prevention services, but some beneficiaries still might miss out. Read story

Read story

How to get tax breaks for your medical practice

Federal, state and local governments offer doctors incentives because practices are recognized as economic engines. But physicians must know how and where to find them. Read story

Read story

Advance pay ACOs: A down payment on Medicare's future

Accountable care organizations that pay doctors up-front bring practice improvements, but it's unclear yet if program actuaries will see a return on investment. Read story

Read story

Physician liability: Your team, your legal risk

When health care team members drop the ball, it's often doctors who end up in court. How can physicians improve such care and avoid risks? Read story

  • Stay informed
  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • RSS
  • LinkedIn