Salon owners expect no change from tanning tax

By Jared Tucker

PNT Staff Writer

jtucker@pntonline.com

Take your tax, and tan it. That’s what tanning salon owners and customers in Portales think about a new federal tanning tax that takes effect July 1.

The new tax, part of the government’s health care bill, won’t keep die-hard tanning customers away, according to salon owners.

Devan Griego, manager of Tres Cowboys Chic salon, said she thinks her customers will tan no matter what since the new tax will only increase the price of a one-month tanning ticket from $30 to $35.20, a price which includes the normal sales tax.

That’s not the reaction the Skin Cancer Foundation was expecting.

“Data from the Centers for Disease Control show that for every 10 percent price increase, cigarette consumption drops by 3 to 4 percent among adults and 6 to 8 percent among young people. We hope this tax will have the same effect on tanning bed use,” said Skin Cancer Foundation President Dr. Perry Robins in a press release.

According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, the tax was included in the government’s health care reform bill after tanning beds were deemed carcinogenic to humans by the International Agency for Research on Cancer.

Griego said the salon she manages is one of many that doesn’t buy the safety pitch the tax was sold on, since salons take many precautions to protect their customers’ safety.

Danna Thompson, owner of Diversity Salon in Portales, takes tanning safety to a whole other level. At her salon, Thompson dictates how long a customer is in the tanning bed, and the equipment does not allow the customers to turn it back on after their session is up.

“I only let people tan as long as I think they need to tan for,” said Thompson, adding she takes many other steps to ensure customer’s safety, such as providing goggles and discussing customer’s medications and skin type.

According to the Associated Press, the estimated $2.7 billion the tax is expected to generate during the next 10 years will be used to offset the necessary costs of health care for uninsured Americans.