Tanning tax begins Thursday

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by NBC and KING 5 News

KING5.com

Posted on June 30, 2010 at 1:12 PM

Updated Friday, Jan 4 at 10:44 AM

Beginning Thursday indoor tanners will have to pay more for their faux glow.

It's part of health care reform that salon owners say has no business in their business.

Tanners will be charged an extra 10 percent as part of a new federal "tanning tax" to help pay for health care reform.

"It's another example of small business just getting extra taxes," complains Indoor Tanning Association President Dan Humiston.

Brittney Tanabe of Seattle's Solar Tan says customers are surprised when she has to tell them.

"The government wants to tax us and there is nothing we can really do about it," she said.

She believes her business will have a "slight impact" as a result of the surcharge.

"I think it's awful," says customer Jerry Lewis, "What are they scraping the bottom of the barrel for?"

Whether the extra charge will deter tanners remains to be seen, but a report from the Centers for Disease Control found that's exactly what happened with smoking.

"When the tax was added to cigarettes, the use of cigarettes declined," explains the Skin Cancer Foundation's Dr. Ali Hendi. "70 percent of indoor tanners are young women. That's exactly the same population that has the highest incidence of melanoma."

Melanoma is the deadliest form of skin cancer and current research shows indoor tanners are 74 percent more likely to get it than non-tanners.

Salon owners remain adamant that tanning offers health benefits, and even dermatologists admit UV exposure allows the body to absorb Vitamin D.

Still, they also say Vitamin D supplements and a diet rich in fish, dairy and leafy greens can do the same thing.

"You could get your vitamin D without damaging your skin and without increasing your risk for melanoma," says Dr. Hendi.

Penny pinchers who still want a few UV rays can always find them courtesy of the sun, free of charge.

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