Building a Future for Indoor Tanning

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:

FEDERAL PLAN                                    

ASA has conducted hundreds of meetings in our nations capitol, educating legislators about our scientifically supported position.

  • The Tan Tax will be eliminated with the repeal of the Affordable Care Act, but ASA has to work to ensure that it doesn’t get added back into a replacement healthcare bill.
  • Meetings and communications with the CDC are designed to change the government’s position to a more balanced message about UV light and indoor tanning.
  • FDA Proposed Rules Response – 300+ page submission; one-on-one meetings; More than 10,000 industry submissions. ASA’s scientific rebuttals have impacted the FDA’s attempt to further regulate our market.

PUBLIC RELATIONS

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 communications efforts have helped reduce the negative media attention experienced by the industry in previous years.
  • Our efforts have been critical in educating members of Congress about the issues impacting our industry.
  • We are continuously developing and implementing new initiatives that will net considerable results for the industry in 2017 and beyond.

LEGAL EFFORTS

ASA is devoting considerable resources to stop the flow of false and misleading information about our industry and your business.

  • ASA’s legal efforts represent the strongest pushback in the history of our industry against anti-tanning forces.
  • We believe the latest UV-related science will prevail over anti-tanning rhetoric, and the right forum is in a court of law.

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.

STATE PLAN

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:

  • The meaning and intent of recommended exposure schedules.
  • The industry’s best practices already in place.
  • Science demonstrates the sun abstinence message from the government is doing more harm than good to human health.

RESEARCH

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:

  • Dozens of conversations with many of the world’s leading scientists regarding UV light, sunbeds and melanoma.
  • Many scientists taking action with research development, letters to Congress, and meetings with government agencies.
  • Proof that much of the anti-tanning research cited by the government and some within the medical industry is incorrect.

FUNDING

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 info@americansuntanning.org or by calling: 855-879-7678.

 

 

Republican Healthcare Bill Would Repeal Tan Tax

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.

Click here for more details on the new healthcare reform bill.

Barton Bonn: Industry Champion

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.”

Avoid Health Claims in Your Client Communications

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 info@americansuntanning.org or 855-879-7678.

 

 

 

Lobbying, Legal and PR Efforts Continue into 2017

The American Suntanning Association is making great strides toward meeting our industry’s objectives and changing the direction of the indoor tanning market. While you’re reading some of ASA’s highlights below, please consider that all of this has been accomplished with a small budget coming from a small percentage of salons in our industry. Imagine what could be accomplished with your help.

Since the ASA began in 2012, we have been focusing on a long-term game plan that will positively impact the market for many years to come. The foundation for ASA’s game plan and objectives is solid scientific research. This critical science is necessary to support our legal, PR and lobbying efforts.

Over the past four years, the ASA has digested every piece of UV-related research that has been the basis for anti-tanning attacks. Over that same period of time, independent researchers have updated much of the science previously used against us. Additionally, new research now shows that the damaging studies regarding tanning equipment had nothing to do with commercial tanning units from professional tanning salons. Careful analysis has shown that the equipment used in these studies were medical phototherapy units and unsupervised home equipment.

We’ve also seen a broad range of studies showing that the benefits of UV light far outweigh the risks of sunburn. These new studies have come from a number of independent sources which all draw the same conclusion: Humans need regular moderate UV exposure for good health.

ASA’s game plan continues to evolve as we focus our resources on the efforts that have the best potential to help us achieve our objectives. Now that we have developed a substantial library of scientific research, ASA’s lobbying, PR and legal efforts are well-focused and making great progress.

We have successfully challenged CDC statements and continue our work to change their position with research support from renowned scientists. We have had several meetings with the CDC and will continue to communicate with them on a scientific level. Two meetings were held with the FDA this year with the latest scientific meeting yielding great opportunities to challenge the science supporting the FDA’s proposed rules. We continue to communicate with the FDA throughout this process.

The foundation for a successful Tan Tax Repeal bill has been completed to a large degree, with 110 co-sponsors signed on. We are now working to get it into an appropriate piece of legislation to get the bill passed.

Under-18 state regulatory efforts have been minimal, partially due to the proposed federal under-18 ban proposed by the FDA. Several efforts by our opponents to influence state departments for additional regulations were identified and lobbied successfully.

The Nebraska Cancer Coalition lawsuit is now in the discovery phase of litigation. This suit will set a precedent that should impact all anti-tanning groups and their misstatements. The ASA’s legal team is already sending letters to other groups placing them on notice that their messages are intentionally harmful and scientifically unsubstantiated.

The above information represents a small part of ASA’s activities. Much of ASA’s work cannot be published in an open forum. But you can learn the details of the work that is changing the future of your business by getting involved. Please contact the ASA and find out how you can make a significant impact in your area by working with the ASA team. We will help you every step of the way. And we can all get to the finish line a lot faster if we all pull together. Please call 855-879-7678 or email info@americansuntanning.org today.