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 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 today.







ASA Makes Industry’s Case to Food and Drug Administration at September Meeting

In September, American Suntanning Association Research Director Allen Miller led a scientific meeting with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration regarding their indoor tanning proposed rules. Miller and the ASA scientific team presented scientific evidence that shows how the proposed rule changes could have adverse affects on the consumers the FDA is trying to protect. ASA has invested considerable resources to constructively work with the FDA and support a better plan for consumers and our market.

Here is Miller’s summary of the meeting:

The FDA attendees were:

Richard P. Felten, Expert Reviewer, Division of Surgical, Orthopedic, and Restorative Devices, Office of Device Evaluation. CDRH
Steve Nager, a doctor
Sharon Miller, CDRH/OIR/Division of Radiological Health/Magnetic Resonance & Electronic Products Branch
Neil Ogden, CDRH/ODE/Division of Surgical Devices — Chief, General Surgery Devices Branch 1
Ian Ostermiller, CDRH Regulatory Counsel · Vasum Peiris, CDRH, pediatrics medical officer
The tanning industry group was myself, Dr. David Hoel, John Overstreet, Jim Shepherd and Ellen Flannery and Christopher Hanson of Covington and Burling, our FDA counsel.

Ellen Flannery began the meeting by stating that the FDA convened an Advisory Panel Meeting in March 2010 to consider scientific information about UV radiation and tanning. That was six years ago. Since that time, there have been significant changes in the understanding of the benefits and risks related to sunlamp products. The purpose of our meeting was to ask that the FDA undertake a thorough review of all the new science published since the 2010 meeting. The point being that without considering new developments, the FDA could be doing more harm than good with this approach.

In particular, more recent scientific articles do not support FDA’s assertion in the proposed rule that children and adolescents who are exposed to UV radiation (including from tanning salons) may be at higher risk of developing certain types of skin cancer than persons who begin exposure later in life as adults. We told the FDA that this ban could push teens to more risky behavior through unsupervised sun tanning either outside or at home.

Science related to mandating an under 18 ban – I began by talking about the infamous 2009 WHO/IARC fiasco. I explained Dr. Hoel’s role in that working group, how the “75% more likely to develop melanoma” statistic was actually generated by staff and had been originally published in 2006 and ignored. Dr. Hoel explained how the IARC working group really didn’t discuss sunbeds but simply reclassified UV light from a sunbed to human carcinogen, the same category as the sun. This is important because the FDA that in the preamble to the proposed rule, relies upon the 2006 International Agency for Research in Cancer (IARC) report and the follow-up 2012 Boniol study done by the same people as the 2006 IARC report (who by 2012 had left IARC and worked for the private organization, International Prevention Research Institute (IPRI).

Dr. Hoel and I told the FDA that these studies have been discredited and superseded by the 2014 Colantonio study which found that there is no statistically significant correlation between indoor tanning before age 25 versus after age 25 and increased risk of melanoma. In addition, I pointed out that the FDA fails to acknowledge that the 2010 Lazovich study published after the meeting of the March 2010 Panel, found that younger individuals are not at increased susceptibility to the effects of UV radiation. We concluded that a careful review of our previous scientific submission shows that the totality of the current scientific evidence does not support the restrictions on use of sunlamp products (including the under-18 ban) being proposed by FDA.

We also talked about how the studies often group home tanning with salon tanning and if you separate out the home tanning data, there is no increased risk for melanoma from tanning in a salon and a 50% increased risk of melanoma from home tanning. We gave them a copy of Dr. Hoel’s meta-analysis showing this.

Science relating to proposed limitations on tanning exposure – Dr. Hoel and I pointed out that FDA’s suggestions of limiting indoor tanning in a tanning salon to: (1) two times per week, (2) once every 48 hours and (3) 15 kJ/m2 per year, all appear to be based on a view that non-burning UV is somehow bad for a person’s risk of skin cancer or is otherwise unhealthy and should be limited.

We told the FDA that current science does not support any of these limitations, other than a separation of 48 hours between each of tanning session in the first two week of a tanning course. To the contrary, there is significant science indicating that insufficient UV exposure is one of the nation’s leading public health problems. The current state of the science shows that there is no harm in a person staying tan year-round by using a commercial tanning salon, assuming there is no UV burning, and lots of benefits (whether we can promote these potential benefits or not). FDA’s current exposure guidelines as set forth in the 1986 policy are designed to prevent burning.

The proposed twice-a-week spacing and 48-hour spacing (except as stated above) is contraindicated by science that has been established for 30 years that, for a given dose of UV, skin cancer risk is minimized by getting that dose as quickly as possible without burning. Dr. Hoel argued that melanoma risk is reduced by having chronic year-round UV exposure, so an annual limit is also contraindicated by science.

The notion of limiting persons with Skin Type III and Type IV to the UV doses appropriate for persons with Skin Type II also is a consequence of a view that less UV exposure is always better than more. This view is contraindicated by the science.

We also discussed the adoption of some of the Intermittent Exposure Chart (IEC) regulations. We understand that the FDA’s proposed recommendation of an annual limit is based on an assumption by the IEC many years ago that indoor tanning should not provide more UV exposure per year than a Dutch indoor worker receives annually from the sun. This arbitrary assumption of the IEC provides no scientific basis for the proposed rule. The Sharon Miller studies cited by FDA as supporting FDA’s notion that a tan can be maintained on a year-round basis with an annual dose of 15 kJ/m2 examined only colorization and made no investigation of epidermal thickening, an essential element of a tan, and thus also does not provide any scientific basis for the proposed rule. We pointed out that tanning equipment is approved by the FDA “for tanning purposes” and a tan includes colorization of existing melanin by UVA, production of melanin by UVB, and epidermal thickening, all of which contribute to protection against subsequent sunburn.

We also discussed efforts we have undertaken to get the CDC to back off its hard line on UV exposure using these same arguments.

If you have any questions about the FDA’s proposed indoor tanning rules, call 855-879-7678.