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Tanning salon feels burned about new tax

The health care reform bill is a hot button issue for many folks. There are plenty who are against it, while many others are all for it.

Janice Kuhlman, owner of Allure Tan in Alexandria, believes in the health care reform bill.

She believes the system needs to be fixed, but she does not believe in what the federal government plans on doing to help pay for the health reform package.

As part of the new health care reform, a federal tax of 10 percent will be added to tanning services beginning on July 1. The tax applies to the use of tanning beds, sunlamps and stand up booths - not to spray tans or lotions.

The tax is expected to raise $2.7 billion over 10 years to help pay for the health reform package, which carries a price tag of $938 billion over the decade.

"I do not think it is right to tax one or two industries for the entire country's health care bill," Kuhlman said when contacted by the newspaper. "A 10 percent tax is higher than anything we have ever seen before and without public option. I don't see how the insurance companies can be kept from overcharging."

Kuhlman believes that doctors, pharmacies and hospitals overcharge. She gave an example of why the system needs to be changed.

Recently, both Kuhlman and her husband had routine colonoscopies - one was done locally at Douglas County Hospital and the other was done at the CentraCare Center in St. Cloud through Veterans Administration.

The total charge for her procedure, which was done locally, was $1,555. The total for her husband's procedure was $4,800.

Kuhlman said they both had the same procedure and noted that neither of them had any complications or after-care. Both findings were negative.

"This is one reason why we need the health care reform," she said. "I just don't feel this tax is the way to do it."

She noted that it's not too late for citizens to speak out against the tanning tax. Those who oppose the tax may share their feelings online at

Kuhlman said it could maybe help reduce the tax to a lower rate or even reorganize it to cover the costs elsewhere.

Even though tanning gets a bad rap sometimes, Kuhlman does not feel tanning is bad for people as long as they don't overdo it.

"Vitamins, exercise, food and prescribed medications are good for us, but if we overdo it, then it becomes bad, as well," she said. "Everything in good judgement."

At Allure Tan, Kuhlman said she strives to educate her customers and highly advises them to wear protective eyewear while tanning indoors; to use sunscreen while tanning outdoors; and to not over expose their skin to ultra-violet (UV) rays.

Kuhlman said specialists in Minnesota agree that, "Our UV index is only high enough from the months of April through September for us to even get enough sun to make our Vitamin D naturally in Minnesota."

And although Vitamin D supplements help, she believes that they can't do it by themselves either. She said people still need the sun to make these supplements work. In addition, she said people need enough magnesium along with the sun to produce Vitamin D.

She added that according to a doctor at the University of Minnesota, people would need to drink two gallons of whole milk per day to get enough Vitamin D daily, but it only takes a few minutes of sunshine during the summer months, between the hours of 10 a.m. and 3 p.m., without sunscreen to produce Vitamin D naturally - along with a good diet and supplements. Other than just those few minutes, Kuhlman said sunscreen should be worn at all times when outdoors.

"The rest of the year, tanning indoors is an option to help make Vitamin D naturally in our bodies," she suggested. She also advised people to be tested for Vitamin D levels as many Minnesotans are low.


On an average day in the United States, more than 1 million people tan in tanning salons.

Nearly 70 percent of tanning salon customers are girls and women, primarily 16 to 29 years of age.

Nearly 28 million people tan indoors in the United States annually. Of these, 2.3 million are teens.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, along with the International Agency of Research on Cancer has declared ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun and artificial sources, such as tanning beds and sun lamps, as known carcinogens, which are cancer-causing substances.

Evidence from several studies has shown that exposure to UV radiation from indoor tanning devices is associated with an increased risk of melanoma and non-melanoma skin cancer, such as squamous cell carcinoma and basal cell carcinoma.

Source: American Academy of Dermatology.