10% tax has devastated an industry, resulting in the closure of nearly 10,000 small businesses and loss of 100,000 jobs since 2010
WASHINGTON, DC (March 8, 2017) – The American Suntanning Association (ASA) today endorsed action taken by Congress to repeal the 10% federal excise tax on indoor tanning. The repeal is included in the draft American Health Care Act introduced this week by Congress.
“We applaud Congress for taking action to repeal this onerous and unfair tax, which has crippled an industry and hurt small business owners across the country,” said ASA President Melinda Norton.
Since the tan tax went into effect in 2010, approximately 10,000 small business-owned salons – more than half of all tanning salons in the U.S. – have closed, resulting in the elimination of nearly 100,000 jobs in communities across the country.
At the same time, the tax has generated less than one-third of the revenue projected by the Congressional Budget Office, or an average of only $84 million per year. With the IRS allocating $11 million annually to collect and administer the tax, coupled with Small Business Administration loan defaults and the loss of income and payroll taxes from closed salons, the net impact of the tax has arguably been negative to the U.S. Treasury.
In addition, a recent study published by world-renowned researchers finds insufficient sun exposure to be an emerging health problem in the United States, and calls for our government to alter its public health advice from one of sun avoidance to a recommendation of regular non-burning sun exposure for most Americans. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5129901/
“The tan tax is a perfect example of misguided government policy, implemented with little forethought or regard for the American public, and we applaud Congress for taking action to repeal it,” Norton added.
NOTE: PLEASE REFER MEDIA REQUESTS REGARDING THIS MATTER TO THE AMERICAN SUNTANNING ASSOCIATION AT 855-879-7678 OR MEDIA@AMERICANSUNTANNING.ORG.
The American Suntanning Association (ASA) is a Section 501(c)(6) nonprofit organization representing professional sunbed salon owners committed to responsible and balanced sun care. The ASA urges a facts-based discussion among the industry, medical community and government regarding the risks and benefits of UV exposure. For more information, visit www.americansuntanning.org
The new federal government administration has instilled great hope in our industry and opened the door for the degree of political change that the American Suntanning Association has been working toward for the last four years. Now is the time for our industry to stand united and maximize our opportunity to set our businesses up for long-term success.
The ASA’s efforts are making a real difference for the industry and for your business, but we can’t do it alone. There is no better time to get involved with the only organization positioned to build a future for your business.
The ASA has developed a multi-part campaign to stem the tide of unfair attacks against our industry. Our actions have included working on Capitol Hill to repeal the tan tax and keep it from resurfacing; initiating litigation against the Nebraska Cancer Coalition to stop the CDC-funded “Bed is Dead” campaign; and working with the CDC and FDA to better understand our scientifically supported position.
Today we are in the best position ever to stop the attacks and to change public perception of indoor tanning. Here is what the ASA is doing to continue to improve the future outlook for all of our businesses:
ASA has conducted hundreds of meetings in our nations capitol, educating legislators about our scientifically supported position.
The tanning industry must be acutely aware of state and federal regulations governing the marketing or public discussion of indoor tanning. ASA has spent significant time and energy to ensure our communications are within the law as we seek to positively influence public perception of indoor tanning.
ASA is devoting considerable resources to stop the flow of false and misleading information about our industry and your business.
That’s why the ASA-backed litigation in Nebraska is so important. If successful, the suit will provide a precedent to be used against other anti-tanning groups to stop misstatements made about indoor tanning.
Our opponents are driving new under-18 bans already in 2017 as well as lobbying individual state departments for additional regulation of our industry. ASA is already traveling to states working with lobbyists and legislators alongside local salon groups and taking proactive measures to educate state regulators in the following areas:
ASA’s scientific team has spent nearly seven years parsing every piece of UV-related research in existence, and collaborating with the world-leading pro-UV experts. As a result, our efforts have yielded:
All of these activities are funded solely by the support of indoor tanning businesses like yours. We urge you to invest in protecting your business by becoming a member or making a contribution to the ASA. Please get involved to protect the future of our industry and your business by joining the ASA. Contact the ASA at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling: 855-879-7678.
The repeal of the Tan Tax is included in a draft of the House Republican bill that would replace the Affordable Care Act. This development was reported to the ASA by several sources earlier this week and confirmed today when the draft was released.
The new bill aims to repeal major provisions of the ACA, including the 10 percent excise tax on tanning services and most other tax provisions from the 2010 healthcare reform. The bill, designed by House Republicans, should be introduced after Congress’ break this week, according to House Speaker Paul Ryan.
Last year, a bill to reform the ACA that included the repeal of the Tan Tax was passed by Congress and would have become law had it been signed by President Obama. It is expected that President Trump will sign the new reform bill into law if it is passed by Congress.
Also, last week the new Tan Tax Repeal bill, H.R. 1150, was submitted by Representatives George Holding (R-NC) and Collin Peterson (D-MN) in the House. The ASA will continue to work with lawmakers to garner support for the Tan Tax repeal and update you on further developments.
Many years ago, Bart Bonn made the decision to get involved in securing the future of the indoor tanning industry and to protect his chain of tanning salons. Over the course of a decade, Bonn worked with other like-minded industry leaders to eventually organize the industry’s first tanning salon association – the American Suntanning Association. For four years, Bonn has been President and Executive Director for the ASA, leading the industry’s efforts in Washington and overseeing all aspects of the industry association.
Bonn was no stranger to politics, having previously worked on political campaigns in his home state of Nebraska. Building relationships with state and federal lawmakers were measures Bonn knew were necessary to protect his salon businesses.
In 2013, Bonn led a successful effort to get tanning salon services removed from the state of Nebraska’s state admissions tax. The lawsuit and political lobbying support to win that battle was very costly and time consuming, but Bonn is not a man to back down from a fight. “I’ve worked with Bart for many years and one thing I learned is that he doesn’t let anything get in his way when his mind is made up,” said Matt Russell, Smart Tan CEO and ASA’s new Executive Director. “If I am ever in a tough predicament, Bart is the first guy I would want standing by my side.”
Once the ASA organized and the Board determined that Washington was the core of the industry’s issues, Bonn took steps that few people would consider. “He packed up his Chrysler 300 along with this wife and moved to Washington, DC,” said Russell. “He wasn’t going to hope and pray someone in Washington was going to take care of the industry’s problems by sending a check or making a few phone calls; he went there to make sure it was getting done.”
Bonn rented an apartment and lived in D.C. at least two weeks a month, and sometimes for months at a time, while Congress was in session. Every day while in Washington, Bonn spent days, evenings, weekends and holidays attending Congressional meetings, dinner functions and fundraisers till the wee hours. “Like many businesses, relationships are created during social gatherings and after-hours events,” according to Russell. “Bart has earned the respect of many Washington insiders because they know the sacrifices he made to be there, representing his business and his industry.”
After years of leading our industry’s efforts, Bonn has stepped down as ASA President and will now be playing a consulting role as Immediate Past President. Melinda Norton, ASA’s newly elected President, is no stranger to Washington and has represented our industry alongside Bonn for the past several years. “Bart has been a great face for our industry and I’m proud to follow in his footsteps,” said Norton.
Bonn will continue traveling to Washington for at least another year offering his insight to ASA’s new leadership. “Bart has opened more doors for our industry than anyone could have,” said Russell. “His leadership couldn’t have come at a better time for our industry.”
The topic of health claims has become newsworthy of late because of the recent actions of New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman. Last year, several New York tanning businesses reached settlements with the Attorney General after being accused of making misleading health claims, many of which appeared on the businesses’ websites or social media accounts. It’s a good reminder that the laws in many states leave room for interpretation, and you should approach your customer communications accordingly.
Despite the recent legal action against indoor tanning businesses, many within the industry still hold misconceptions about what they can and can’t say to their clients, particularly in online communications. The confusion is not surprising, as some gray areas exist within the laws governing the issue. Given that subjectivity, it’s a good idea for all indoor tanning businesses to be exceedingly cautious about what they say, both in the salon and in external communications.
Some salon owners believe that they can post information touting the health benefits of UV light, especially if it comes from third-party sources. They believe that unless they are promoting health benefits derived from indoor tanning equipment, that there’s no problem with the message. Or they believe that since the message isn’t coming directly from the salon business, there’s no problem. But the Federal Trade Commission and most state Attorneys General disagree.
If a message from your business suggests or implies that there may be health benefits from the sun or UV light, you are breaking the law regardless of whether the message came from you directly or from another source. Remember, you are selling UV light sessions. Therefore, the government considers that you are misleading the public to believe there are health benefits from your UV-emitting devices, regardless of where the message originated.
It is also important not to downplay the risks associated with UV light and sunbeds. Suggesting that sunbed risks are overstated or that skin cancer risks are only for certain skin types or for those who sunburn could be construed as misleading. It’s also important that you include disclaimer language about sunbeds on your website or other communication venues. Here’s an example of language to consider:
“NOTICE: Exposure to ultraviolet radiation may increase the likelihood of developing skin damage and skin cancer and can cause serious eye injury.”
The subject of discussing vitamin D is less clear. For example, Texas courts have ruled that even saying that sunbeds induce vitamin D production is impermissible, despite there being plenty of research to support that statement. Yet some salons believe that it is an obligation to alert their customers of the potential biological impact of your services including skin cancer risks and increased vitamin D blood levels.
Because it is not entirely clear how government regulators might view language regarding vitamin D, the conservative route would be to completely avoid making statements about it. However, if you do decide to state that your equipment produces vitamin D, you may want to add appropriate disclaimer language. Here is a statement by the FTC as part of a settlement they made with an industry group who promoted the market using vitamin D related statements:
Ads that claim exposure to ultraviolet radiation produces vitamin D in the body, or make other claims about the effectiveness or usefulness of indoor tanning products or services for the body’s generation of vitamin D, must clearly and prominently make this disclosure:
“NOTICE: You do not need to become tan for your skin to make vitamin D. Exposure to ultraviolet radiation may increase the likelihood of developing skin cancer and can cause serious eye injury.”
To avoid any potential conflicts with these government groups, it always safest to avoid any language regarding vitamin D or UV benefits.
If you have any questions about what you can and cannot say in your salon communications, please contact the ASA at email@example.com or 855-879-7678.