Tanning tax would hurt businesses, slash jobs

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To finance Obama’s vision of more affordable healthcare for all, the Senate last month decided to make something else less affordable for some. It removed a measure in the health care bill that would have imposed a 5 percent tax on all elective cosmetic surgeries and replaced it with a 10 percent tax on already-pricey indoor tanning. Tanning beds have been linked to melanoma, which people under age 30 have a 75 percent increased chance of getting if they use such machines.

But baby-sitting is not the government’s business, though it seems to disagree—at least where there’s money to be made. To little effect on quitting rates, last April it hiked the tax on cigarettes 158 percent per pack. (We’re awaiting the Big Mac Levy and the Failure-to-Floss Tariff.)

The Indoor Tanning Association recently started a petition to get the measure removed, and tanning franchises have begun urging customers to go to the Web site and sign it. We hope they do so in droves, because this measure has discrimination written all over it. The majority of the 20,000-plus salons in the United States are owned and patronized by women, and more than 90 percent of them are owned by just one person. This tax would very likely mean the slashing of about 9,000 jobs and the closing of approximately 1,000 salons. So much for Obama’s many promises to help small businesses.  

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Anath Hartmann

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