In the midst of a chilly dark winter people who go to tanning salons say ten minutes in a bed can do a lot to boost their energy and their self esteem. Starting July 1, that boost will cost 10% more.
Congress slapped a tax on tanning beds as part of the healthcare reform bill. It was added as a way to pay for a portion of the bill's expected cost. Congress expects the tax will raise $2.7 billion over the next ten years.
Knowing that the tax will soon be implemented has Stephen Le, owner of NailSpa and Tanning in Burlington, worried about the future of his business.
"As a struggling business operator I'm going to have to add another 10 percent on top of tanning services," says Le.
An average tanning session costs between $5 and $20. Le expects he will have to add 50 cents to a dollar onto his prices to make up for the extra money he will have to send the federal government.
"I'm worried because you know they're targeting small business because you know at the end of the day we're just a small mom and pop operation," says Le.
Lawmakers targeted tanning because of pressure from dermatologists who say the UV lights in the beds increase the risk of melanoma skin cancer.
"Saying that there's a safe way to tan is almost saying there's a safe way to drive drunk," says Dr. Ellen Marmur of the Mt. Sinai Medical Center.
Salon owners say there is a safe way to tan. It is called sunless, or spray, tanning. It is exempt from the tax because it does not use UV light. Le and other salon owners hope their customers will see that as a good alternative, or keep coming back despite the tax.