“I don’t think our services should be taxed,” said Susan Chand, manager of Beauty Source in Antioch. “I feel like we are getting picked upon.”
An earlier version of the Senate bill proposed taxing cosmetic surgery, which would have raised nearly $6 billion over 10 years to help pay the increased costs for expanded health care. But successful lobbying by the cosmetic industry against the so-called “botax” led to the assessment instead being placed on the tanning industry. Although it is projected to raise less than $3 billion over 10 years, proponents hope the tax would lead to less use of tanning beds and a decrease in skin cancer.
Chand, who regularly uses a tanning bed in addition to getting botox injections, acknowledged “that too much tanning is not good.” But she believes that news reports about the potential danger might be overhyped. “It did scare everybody, but it might have been blown out of proportion a little bit,” she said.
Tanning at her salon, which costs $7-13 per session, also provides benefits, she pointed out. “You look better and feel better,” she said. “We get a lot of people who tan because they are very fair and don’t want to burn. So they build their tan a little bit before they go on vacation.” Tanning industry advocates also point out that ultraviolet light stimulates the body’s production of Vitamin D, which nutritionists say is deficient in most people.
Donna DeBonaventura closed her Denè Nicole’s Salon in downtown Brentwood in August due to the poor business climate – “downtown is a ghost town,” she said – which provided tanning services. She predicts that the tanning tax will put some struggling businesses under.
“It’s definitely going to knock out some businesses, for sure,” she said. “I think it will, because the economy is not good now. Now they will have to pay 10 percent more for it. So how’s that supposed to help? It’s not a lucrative business. The biggest money time of the year is the springtime; summer is pretty slow; winter is OK. All these merchants that are depending on that to keep their business going, now you will see those businesses closing down.
“They shouldn’t tax people that want to tan. Where is it going to end? Will it next be hair services, nail services? Where does it stop? They don’t realize what this is leading to. Everything is going to be taxed. Everywhere you go there’s going to be a tax on every single thing.”
While mom-and-pop tanning shops could be at risk, a worldwide franchise such as Planet Beach Contempo Spa, which has diversified its services, might be better prepared to deal with the tax hit. “If the 10-percent tax on tanning services passes, yes, my business will be affected. But I am grateful that the effect will be minimal,” said Kevin Nunes, area representative for the chain, which operates a location in Brentwood.
“Several years ago, after forecasting the future of the tanning industry and changing the vision of the Planet Beach organization, we took decisive action to reposition the Planet Beach brand. Our focus has since shifted from tanning to the overall skincare, relaxation and wellness of those who visit one of our contempo spas.”
Regarding the concern about the tanning bed/skin cancer connection, Nunes wrote via e-mail, “Planet Beach understands the seriousness of the risks that are associated with extreme exposure to UV light, which is why we don’t only ‘tan’ clients, but provide them with the therapeutic benefits of UV Therapy. It’s not just about tanning, it’s about total wellness.”