The American Academy of Dermatology Association (AADA) applauds the decision of the U.S. Senate to substitute a 10 percent federal excise tax on indoor tanning services for the proposed tax on cosmetic procedures in the Senate’s health system reform legislation (H.R. 3590, the Patient Protection and Affordability Act of 2009). The indoor tanning tax, as proposed to Senate leadership by the AADA, furthers its goal of promoting wellness and prevention, and removes the harmful unintended consequences associated with a tax on cosmetic surgery procedures.
“The pending health system reform legislation provides an ideal opportunity for Congress to take a needed step forward in battling skin cancer by requiring a federal tax on indoor tanning services,” said dermatologist David M. Pariser, MD, FAAD, president of the American Academy of Dermatology Association. “A tax on indoor tanning services would serve as a signal from the federal government to everyone, especially young people, that indoor tanning is dangerous and should be avoided,” he said.
“Both the House and Senate versions of health system reform legislation have a primary goal of seeking to reduce the country’s health costs in the future,” he said. “In addition to generating revenue to help offset the cost of health system reform, a federal tax on indoor tanning helps reduce health costs by discouraging indoor tanning and thereby reducing the future costs of treating skin cancers,” he said. If passed, the federal excise tax would apply to indoor tanning services performed on or after July 1, 2010.
More than 1 million new cases of skin cancer will be diagnosed in the United States this year. Indoor tanning before the age of 35 has been associated with a 75 percent increase in the risk of melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, which has become more common in females 15-29 years old. Each year the cost of treating skin cancers in the United States totals about $1.8 billion, of which about $300 million is spent on melanomas alone. Indoor tanning contributes to those costs by increasing the risk of cancers in its users, especially young people.
The United States Department of Health and Human Services and the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer have stated that ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun and artificial sources, such as tanning beds and sun lamps, is a known human carcinogen, in the same category as tobacco smoke. Yet, nearly 30 million people tan indoors in the United States annually. Of these, 2.3 million are teens.
“A tax on indoor tanning would reinforce and be fully consistent with other federal and state efforts to protect the public from the practice,” said Dr. Pariser. “The Food and Drug Administration requires indoor tanning facilities to warn customers about the dangers of indoor tanning. At least 30 states have passed legislation to protect minors from indoor tanning in the face of the mounting evidence of the danger of UV radiation. Other states are now considering legislation. The indoor tanning tax would be much like the cigarette tax, which reinforces the warning labels on cigarette packs,” he said.
SOURCE American Academy of Dermatology Association