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Tax the tan?
September 9, 2003 4:43 AM   Subscribe

Tax the tan? a new study shows more than a quarter of white female teenagers have had at least three sessions in a tanning booth, Forty-seven percent of 18- and 19-year-old females made three or more visits. The overall rate for boys was far lower, around 7 percent. Note to teenage boys: Go hang out at the tanning booth.
Concerned dermatologists made a bold proposal: Slap a $20 tax on every visit to the tanning salon for people under 18, after all, we tax Smokes for just the same reason. Needles to say The Indoor Tanning Association (Don't miss the upcoming ITAWorld Expo, Huey Lewis and the News show included!), which represents the nation's 6,000 tanning salons, denounced the idea, noting that moderate exposure to ultraviolet light may actually promote health. UV light helps the body absorb vitamin D, which is important in the development of bones. After all Nicotine 'reduces Alzheimer's symptoms'. Are taxes a good behavior modification tool?
posted by Blake (26 comments total)

 
Why not then tax those who tan at the beach instead of at salons? Except for the wealthy, of course, who should get a tax break on the sun too.
posted by Postroad at 4:48 AM on September 9, 2003


If this goes through could people in their thirties who used to frequent tanning salons get a 'skin like old leather' tax break?
posted by Space Coyote at 4:51 AM on September 9, 2003


well, tobacco tax never stopped me from smoking, but I avoid tanning salons like the plague even though they are not taxed. I'm also careful out there in the real Sun.
posted by dabitch at 4:52 AM on September 9, 2003


Taxes are a poor behavior modifer, but a great way to fund the war in Iraq!
posted by rough ashlar at 5:29 AM on September 9, 2003


I can understand while a young women would want to tan, especially in the winter. Nothing is less attractive than a pasty, pale skin color.

waiting to get smacked in the back of the head in 3...2...1...

Seriously, it's a ridiculous idea. I've never seen a teen not smoke because its too expensive(at least I didn't care about price when I was young). If they can't afford it, they just try to leach on their friends or beg other smokers for smokes.

And I'm curious, is going to the tanning booth 3 times spread out over several years a bad thing? I mean, as long as you're not getting too much uv radiation, how bad is it?
posted by Stynxno at 5:32 AM on September 9, 2003


Are taxes a good behavior modification tool?

I think this is a great idea. Tax things that appeal mainly to younger demographics with brio! The resulting outrage could get people involved in the political stewardship of the country at a much earlier age.
posted by tss at 5:41 AM on September 9, 2003


Tanning salons can probably offer a $25 rebate if they switch on the video cameras and sell the tapes.
posted by sebas at 5:46 AM on September 9, 2003


Are taxes a good behavior modification tool?

Of course not. Taxes are a good tool for raising money. Though I don't really oppose light taxes on luxuries like alcohol and tobacco (or tanning) it seems to me that all of those discussion could be avoided if we were more adept at taxing... you know... rich people.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 6:19 AM on September 9, 2003


It's weird... here I am in a city where it's sunny like 350 days out of the year (Phoenix) and the landscape is dotted with tanning salons. I must be missing something...
posted by ph00dz at 6:21 AM on September 9, 2003


It's weird... here I am in a city where it's sunny like 350 days out of the year (Phoenix) and the landscape is dotted with tanning salons. I must be missing something...

Because why spend 3 hours in the sun when you could spend 10 minutes in a tanning bed. Tanning in a salon leave a lot of extra time for important things, like watching "Days of Our Lives," putting on acrylic nails, and applying dark lip liner.
posted by alou73 at 6:32 AM on September 9, 2003


And hanging out at the mall!
posted by angry modem at 6:52 AM on September 9, 2003


It's weird... here I am in a city where it's sunny like 350 days out of the year (Phoenix) and the landscape is dotted with tanning salons. I must be missing something...

I'm imagining that those people tan semi-nude or nude in order to minimize tan lines?
posted by jennak at 7:13 AM on September 9, 2003


Two quick questions: Why just tax those under 18? That's not analogous to smoking, where kids under 18 are "prohibited" and every purchase is taxed. And is there any evidence that UV light from tanning salons is beneficial to the creation of vitamin D in the same way sunlight is?
posted by soyjoy at 7:57 AM on September 9, 2003


"Are taxes a good behavior modification tool?" In the way you intended this question, no. They didn't affect my smoking behavior (I just quit, quite easily in fact, but not at all due to taxes). In fact, I think that most people respond the way I do to attempts to coerce behavior: I feel resentful.

Anyway, your question can be taken in a way you didn't intend. The recent tax breaks for the ridiculously wealthy will impact the voting behavior of a lot of people. I hope.
posted by yesster at 8:33 AM on September 9, 2003


"Sin Taxes" are a common misunderstanding. There isn't really any such thing.

Tobacco (alcohol, gasoline, etc) isn't heavily taxed because it's 'bad', it's heavily taxed because people will pay.
In economics it's called price elasticity. Tobacco has a very high price elasticity, because what are you gonna do, quit smoking?
Nope, you're gonna take it like a chump and pay.

Tanning on the other hand, is bound to have lower price elasticity. If the price went up 20$ a session, I suspect business would drop off massively.

Not to mention, I think white girls with skin cancer are sexy.
posted by Leonard at 8:42 AM on September 9, 2003


I blame Britney!

Hey, have you had seen a close up of her skin! (sans makeup) SCARY!!! A teen with 30 y.o. skin.
posted by HTuttle at 9:00 AM on September 9, 2003


UV light can be helpful for jaundiced babies (usually premies). They use a bank of lights similar to a tanning bed or a UV blanket (bili-blanket). The babies do wear little sunglasses to protect their eyes.
posted by sailormouth at 10:04 AM on September 9, 2003


Hey, have you had seen a close up of her skin! (sans makeup)

No, where can I get one?
posted by gottabefunky at 11:24 AM on September 9, 2003


gottabefunky, it doesn't really need to be that close of a shot to see her sun hardened facial leather.
posted by HTuttle at 12:15 PM on September 9, 2003


ph00dz: I noticed the same thing in CA... I live in San Francisco right now, overcast and foggy all the time, and I only know of one tanning bed location in the city. But when I lived in San Diego, which is sunny and beautiful, every strip mall has a tanning salon.

My theory is that in SD, where you can get a "natural" tan, and there's such a culture of being outside all the time, being pale implies not having the time to lie out on the beach. In SF, on the other hand, the lifestyle is much more urban, and the weather much less inviting, so there's no negative connotation to passing the time indoors, and no need to fake a tan.
posted by antimony at 12:38 PM on September 9, 2003


I wish there were anti-tanning booths. I've accidentally gotten some color on my arms, turning my normally near-transluscent skin to a light, light brown. It totally ruins my "pale in direct opposition to the unnaturally tan southern women" motif and I'd like to get back to ghostly ASAP.
posted by jennyb at 1:52 PM on September 9, 2003


> Are taxes a good behavior modification tool?
No. Never. Under ANY circumstances. Because the government should NEVER regulate your behavior. If it's bad enough, outlaw it. (ie murder)

Just say no to morality taxes.
posted by woil at 1:57 PM on September 9, 2003


hey! Pale is cool!
posted by palegirl at 4:02 PM on September 9, 2003


Nothing is less attractive than a pasty, pale skin color.

except maybe missing /scarred skin from where the cancer was removed? I have a friend who grew up in florida and has skin cancer. They had to remove a portion of the skin on his face. The cancer has since spread to his spinal cord. He is 30 years old.

I'm completely shocked at these numbers. At least with smoking, it's done for the enjoyment of the agent; these girls are putting themselves at risk to provide other people with aesthetic pleasure (which naturally may extend into certain benefits for themselves, but it's a bit roundabout).
posted by mdn at 4:59 PM on September 9, 2003


Those artificial tans are nasty. I just spent a year in a whiter-than-white part of the Midwest where 50% of college age kids tanned artificially, and the hideous preternatural bronze glow on otherwise not hideous blondes shone everywhere as proof. I think the phenomenon is at least half a generational thing.
posted by Zurishaddai at 7:20 PM on September 9, 2003


What about sensible folks who elect to use a few sessions in a tanning bed prior to traveling where the sun is strong and being in it is part of the idea? That's the only time I used such a place.

Of course, most folks aren't using it this way, and I wonder how many would even think to do so.
posted by Goofyy at 4:21 AM on September 10, 2003


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