In January 2013, ASA Director of Scientific Affairs, Joe Levy, immediately took charge of ASA’s efforts to educate state legislatures about the nuances of sun care – convincing them to table or amend more than 100 different bills that would have unnecessarily restricted access to UV tanning facilities or imposed new excise taxes on tanning sessions.
Since 2014, ASA has successfully battled restrictive stage legislation 93 percent of the time when Levy has been involved.
Most of these bills attempt to ban UV tanning in professional sunbed businesses for people under age 18. A few have even suggested under-21 age restrictions.
Levy – who had been in charge of Smart Tan’s UV tanning certification efforts since 1992 – had been occasionally asked by players in the market to help with state regulatory efforts dating back to the mid-1990s. Since 2014, ASA has successfully battled restrictive stage legislation 93 percent of the time when Levy has been involved.
Levy quickly developed a sound scientific defense for our position that made it difficult for state representatives to support age-related bans. “Our opponents go out of their way to avoid or even prevent having an actual discussion about the science – because they know we can win that discussion,” Levy explained. “In many cases, they try to make their case emotional rather than scientific to attempt to short-circuit the discussion.”
Levy has carefully analyzed the input he’s received from various sources in every state where sunbed-related activity has taken place. As he puts it, “Every state has their own political DNA. Not only have I had to customize a strategy for the various regulations that may be in play, I’ve also had to customize the plan for each state.”
Levy also discovered that some in the dermatology industry seemed to have more interest in the earned-media advertising created by introducing under-18 legislation than they are in actually discussing the issue of effective sun care. “The head of a national melanoma charity once asked me to work directly with her because she felt organized dermatology was more interested in showing up for press conferences than they were in actually doing the work,” he recalled. “There’s no doubt a lot of bills are introduced just to gain the earned media for those who promote ‘sun scare’ instead of real ‘sun care.’”
In addition, Levy has worked hard to educate representatives on both sides of the aisle that professional sunbed facilitates have a scientifically supported position. That’s become more and more important, as sun care topics have become less partisan than the days of the 1990s, when it was simply a “more-or-less regulation” issue.
“For 28 years, I’ve been pretty consistent in advocating for effective sunburn prevention as the future of professional sunbed operations,” Levy said. “And there’s no doubt that’s the gas that puts fuel in our engine. Demonstrating that to both sides of the aisle is going to be more and more important as we enter the next decade.”
Founded in 2012, the American Suntanning Association is committed to defending and growing the industry through a detailed and proactive plan directed by an all-salon board and executed by more than two dozen management and consulting team members who specialize in this type of work.
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