Tax on Tanning Parlors Is a Sin Tax
Posted Mon, Jan 11, 2010

I am not sure how many of the public noticed a provision in the proposed health reform legislation that would have placed a federal tax on cosmetic procedures. The provision was known as the Bo-TAX and it aroused a unified response from the medical community in general and organized medicine in particular. This proposed tax was a clear example of how out of touch the Congress is with the needs of the public. This always happens in government when those who govern make a career of governing rather than serving the electorate. The proposal would have directly impact women aged 30-60 who are trying to compete in the job market against younger women and against men. Regardless of its validity, women must compete in part on the basis of appearance whereas men can compete on the perception of power (often depicted by money). At a time when unemployment is so high and the economy is struggling to regain a semblance of security, this tax places a direct burden on a particular segment of the public who utilize cosmetic services.
In place of that proposal a new tax on tanning salons has been included in the bill. Not unexpectedly it initiated a whining response from the tanning industry that the tax is not only discriminatory but is a substitute cosmetic tax. Nonsense!!! The tanning industry has been getting away with murder, literally, for decades. The World Health Organization has now directly linked tanning parlors as a direct cause of malignant melanoma and other skin cancers. Malignant melanoma is now the 7th leading cancer killer in the United States, kills some 8000 people yearly and claims 80,000 victims each year. Skin cancer is the most frequently occurring cancer in the world and now causes 1,000,000 new cases yearly in the United States.
This is not a cosmetic tax. It is a sin tax- similar to taxes on alcohol and cigarettes. If individuals wish to engage in risky behavior which directly causes cancer and other severe illnesses they need to pay for their avarice. When people selfishly create harm and increase the health care burden which directly translates into higher insurance premiums and higher cost of providing health care it is incumbent upon them to pay some of the costs they directly produce. So often it is the perpetrators, the tavern owners, the smoke polluters, the self-indulged, who cry for sympathy when responsible adults institute limits on behavior and who insist that individuals accept responsibility for their actions. Finally the Congress passes an intelligent bill and the media reports criticism and derision from the perpetrators instead of congratulating legislators who have a dismal record of responsible health care legislation in the first year of the Obama administration.

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Edward Lack
ABOUT THIS EXPERT
Edward Lack MD is a board certified dermatologist and a board certified dermatologic cosmetic surgeon. He is President and Medical Director of MetropolitanMD, a multispecialty cosmetic surgery center in Chicago,which is unique in having a double board certified cosmetic dermatologic surgeon, a double board certified facial plastic surgeon, and a double board certified cosmetic plastic surgeon. Dr. Lack is also the Past President of The American Academy of Cosmetic Surgery.


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