The 10% tanning tax officially goes into effect today, to the delight of many dermatologists, lawmakers and health insurance companies who hope the significant added cost will wipe out an industry that they feel cranks out skin cancer by the millions.
"Tanning beds should be illegal. There is so much damage done from indoor tanning. I see younger and younger patients with melanomas, which are the deadliest form of skin cancer. We know that indoor tanning increases your chances of getting a melanoma by 75 percent and I do believe that this tax will be a deterrent," says New York dermatologist Dr. Debra Jaliman.
And Dr. Jaliman doesn't even think the tax should be the last step.
"There still needs to be legislation in every state to prevent minors from using these destructive devices," adds Dr. Jaliman.
In fact, it was The American Academy of Dermatology Association who appealed to Democratic Majority Leader Senator Harry Reid for the tanning tax, in place of a 5% cosmetic tax that Congress had originally devised to help pay for the massive healthcare bill that passed earlier this year.
"We suggested that the tanning tax would be a better alternative to the cosmetic tax and hopefully will reduce the incidence of skin cancer down the road," President of the American Academy of Dermatology Association David M. Pariser told The Wall Street Journal.
The tax is only the latest hit to tanning beds, which in 2009 was re-categorized by a division of the World Health Organization as carcinogenic to humans -- which placed tanning in the highest cancer risk category alongside tobacco smoke. Yet almost 30 million Americans use tanning beds annually, of which 2.3 million are teenagers.
Meanwhile, the tanning industry is revolting, with protests planned at state capitals nation-wide today.
A release from the Nebraska Indoor Tanning Association claims that the tax is part of a smear campaign, "orchestrated by dermatologists and cosmetic companies, that exploits inaccurate fears of the sun." The organization also says that the tax is unfair, as fitness gyms that offer indoor tanning are exempt from the 10% tax.
Politico.com is encouraging tanners to carry an, "Obama Tax Hike Exemption Card," the next time they hit the salon for a tan, with the promise phrase of, "No family making less than $250,000 a year will see any form of tax increase," emblazoned on the front along with a signature from the President.
Though creative, the protests are competing with the resounding blare of some very compelling medical statistics.
"Across all age groups, males and females who have ever used tanning beds have a 15 percent higher risk of developing melanoma. Based on seven worldwide studies, people who first use a tanning bed before age 35 increase their risk for melanoma by 75 percent," The Skin Cancer Foundation stated in a release.
Our prediction? The facts plus tax may just be enough to finally push the tanning industry into seeking more cost-efficient and ray-free alternatives to getting that glow.