I admit to being fully impatient with anyone who thinks a tax on tanning salons is a bad idea. Of course, thus far, that group is mainly limited to tanning salon owners (shock) who feel their “one little industry” is getting stuck with the country’s entire health care reform tab (via Jezebel). What’s more surprising: The fact that they aren’t getting much support from the rest of the beauty industry on this one. Before embarking on this here project, I tended to think of the beauty industry as one big, pretty battleship. But it’s actually made up of several different and sometimes warring factions, and tanning salons are to estheticians kind of the way reality TV stars are to um… the cast of Gossip Girl. By which I mean, they’re both guilty pleasures, but at least Leighton and Blake and the rest have to try to act.
“A big part of our job is to promote good health,” says Miss Jenny. “I think it’s irresponsible for any esthetician to go to a tanning salon or even tan regularly during the summer.” She’s not against a healthy “I spend time outdoors” glow, mind you, but you best be wearing and reapplying your SPF all day long.
And the tanning industry is hopping mad about the way the rest of the beauty industrial complex is treating them, because twist! The new 10 percent tanning tax really came about as a replacement for the 5 percent tax on Botox and other cosmetic surgical procedures, which was soundly squashed by the beauty industry and feminists alike. I’m still working through how I feel about that one. Claiming it’s discrimination to tax Botox when women need it to compete in today’s tough job market? Issuing statements about access to expensive, elective surgeries when so many Americans don’t have access to health care at all? Are we really doing that, NOW? And yet! There’s that pesky issue of abortions and birth control not getting covered, while male vanity drugs like Viagra slipped through the cracks.
So I guess you can’t blame the tanning industry for being cranky with Big(ger) Beauty. From StyleList:
Vice President of the International Smart Tan Alliance Joe Levy told NBC Philadelphia: “In creating the bill Rep. Maloney and Dent [the Congresswoman and Congressman who started the bill] have been duped by the cosmetics industry, chosen to ignore the latest research of UV light and have sided with cosmetic companies who seek to keep all of America out of the sun and covered with sunscreen.”
Duping you into preventing cancer? By telling you to wear sunscreen?! Yup, that sounds like the cosmetics industry all right. Oh wait, except it doesn’t, since potential carcinogens are among most cosmetic manufacturers’ very most favorite product ingredients. And extra sales tax on those wouldn’t do us much good, since beauty brands aren’t required to tell you when they’re using toxic ingredients.
At least for now: Senator Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) is calling for an overhaul of our federal toxic chemical law, the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). The current TSCA doesn’t require any manufacturers to disclose dangerous ingredients or do any pre-market safety testing on chemicals before they stick them in all the consumer goods (makeup included) that you bring into your house and put on your body every darn day. If you think greater scrutiny sounds like a good idea, go here to email your senator on behalf of the Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families Campaign, a coalition of non-profits and advocacy groups working to get a new bill passed.
It’ll be an uphill battle against Big Beauty and all its industry friends (cleaning products? furniture? food? Check, check and check), so do spread the word. And let’s hope that grouchy tanning salon owners don’t hog all the media’s attention when it comes to stories on just exactly who the beauty industry is throwing under the bus.
What do you think? Does a tanning tax make sense? Would you like to see more regulation on which chemicals are allowed in consumer goods? Do tell.
[Photo: Tanning Beds For Sale Online. Good to know.]