Tan Tax Begins

CURE, Fall 2010, Volume 9, Issue 3

Skin cancer advocates hope a new 10 percent tax on indoor tanning will pull tanners out from under the bulbs.

Skin cancer advocates hope a new 10 percent tax on indoor tanning will pull tanners out from under the bulbs. The tax, which went into effect July 1, is part of the new health care law and could generate up to $2.7 million over 10 years.

Skin cancer advocates hope the tax will lower melanoma and other skin cancer rates in the United States. More than 2 million people are diagnosed annually with non-melanoma skin cancer; 2,000 will die from it each year. Melanoma, which is the more deadly type, was diagnosed in more than 68,000 people and claimed 8,700 lives in 2009.

The WHO’s International Agency for Research on Cancer classified ultraviolet-emitting tanning devices as Group I agents, meaning they are confirmed to be carcinogenic. A recent study shows participants who used tanning beds for more than 50 hours were 2.5 to 3 times more likely to develop melanoma than those who had never used them. Experts such as William D. James, MD, president of the American Academy of Dermatology, hope that research and federal laws will be enough to convince the public that tanning beds are bad.

“It really adds a lot when the federal government steps in and says ‘we’re going to tax this,’” says James. “It gives a much stronger public health message.” The AAD is also working to ban indoor tanning to minors, following in the footsteps of several European countries that completely ban access to those younger than 18. In the U.S., Howard County, Maryland, became the first to ban tanning access to minors last year. Currently, eight states ban individuals under 14 from tanning beds. Most require parental permission for those under 18.

For more on tanning and cancer, and to comment on this topic, read CURE's blogs on:"The reality of tanorexia" by guest blogger, Audrey Rabalais"Tanning beds definitely cause cancer" by Lacey Meyer