2018 American Suntanning Association Progress Report

As the industry’s tanning salon association, ASA continues to work on all issues impacting indoor tanning salons in Washington and all 50 states. ASA has also taken the lead on UV-related research development and advancement, industry PR and industry legal issues.  The following is an overview of the current status of the ASA’s efforts involving the most important issues for our industry.

Federal Lobbying

For the past eight months, the ASA federal lobbying team has been focused on making contact with Members of Congress, Senators, and representatives of many federal agencies on behalf of the tanning salon industry. After more than five years and more than 3,000 meetings, the ASA has made policymakers aware that tanning salon owners have a voice and it should count when regulations are considered. ASA’s federal lobbying team is working hard on many fronts to secure the market from additional unwarranted attacks and to repeal the unfair tan tax.

Tan Tax Repeal

The ASA team is working hard to get the tan tax repeal language added to a number of existing bills while simultaneously working to get the stand alone bill to the finish line. This year, the bi-partisan Senate bill S.2600 was introduced by Senators Rand Paul (KY) and Heidi Heitkamp (ND) to repeal the tan tax. Since that time, the ASA team has met with dozens of Senators on both sides of the aisle asking for their support to end the unfair tax targeting tanning salon owners. “The offices we’ve met with on the Senate side have been very supportive for our cause,” said ASA President Melinda Norton. “Senators from both sides of the aisle have pledged their support for the repeal.”

ASA is also working to gather more sponsors for House bill HR 1150 sponsored by Representative George Holding (NC). Each week, more sponsors are added to the House bill as the ASA works to get back the 114 sponsors that were on the bill for the previous administration. “Representative Holding should be commended for championing the tan tax repeal efforts in the House,” said Norton. “He has put himself on the line for his constituents and small business owners across the country as he truly understands the devastation this has caused to so many business owners and their employees,” Norton said.

The ASA team is armed with dozens of pages of reports and statistics showing the devastation caused by the tan tax. Policymakers have been surprised to learn how many small businesses have been closed in their respective districts due to the federal government’s unfair tax. “The momentum and support in Washington to remove this unfair tax is growing,” said Norton. “We’re hopeful that we will see an end to this devastating tax in 2018.”

Federal Agencies

ASA’s federal team is also communicating with federal agencies regarding pending regulations and potential anti-tanning issues. Some federal agencies are viewing indoor tanning much like tobacco and are working toward consumer interventions and other efforts to attack our businesses. ASA continues to communicate with these agencies to develop a constructive working relationship that will ultimately help consumers who choose to practice moderate UV exposure both outdoors and indoors. “Sunburn prevention should be the ultimate goal for American consumers, not total UV light abstinence,” said Norton. “There are thousands of studies today that suggest that the federal government’s recommendations to consumers to completely eliminate sunlight from their lives is unwise. We believe our industry is part of the sunburn prevention solution and we’re here to help.”

State Regulations

Under-18 state regulatory efforts are another important aspect of the services provided by the ASA. Indoor tanning opponents have not let up on pushing for teen tan bans in almost every state and there’s a concern of even more threatening state regulations. “We are seeing a new threat by anti-tanning groups working to get indoor tanning under the jurisdiction of state departments that can increase oversight, inspections and fines for the industry,” said Joe Levy, ASA Director of Scientific Affairs. “We have been successful so far in keeping these at bay but our opponents appear to not be satisfied with under-18 bans,” Levy said.

The most successful state regulatory efforts are achieved when industry members work cohesively with the ASA team. Each year, more tanning salon owners are getting involved with the state regulatory process, and federal efforts, which makes the campaigns much stronger. “There are a lot of things that salon owners in their respective states can achieve far better than I can from outside the state,” said Levy. “Though I travel to dozens of states every year, there’s a lot that can be accomplished when I’m not there,” Levy said.

Nebraska Cancer Coalition Lawsuit

The Nebraska Cancer Coalition (NCC) lawsuit filed by ASA member tanning salons in Nebraska is still underway. It was reported that the lawsuit is scheduled to go to trial by spring of 2019. ASA members state that their objectives remain the same – to prove the industry’s scientifically supported position in a forum where the entire story will be heard. A legal victory would also impact the false statements made by various anti-tanning groups around the country.

Scientific Research

Every year, more and more studies crop up from around the world touting the myriad benefits of UV light. Today, there are literally thousands of scientific studies that support the position that moderate UV exposure, not total sunlight abstinence, is the most intelligent approach to sun care. To summarize the power of the science supporting our industry’s position of moderation, a recent Swedish study that followed 30,000 women for 20 years concluded that sunlight deprivation carries a higher risk than smoking. At some point, state and federal governments will have to acknowledge this science and rethink their current positions. ASA continues to get this critical scientific information into the hands of policymakers, agencies and many other organizations in both the federal and state level with hopes of changing the anti-UV position that exists today.

If you would like to get involved in changing the future of UV light and your business, please contact the ASA at info@americansuntanning.org.