In 2013, the American Suntanning Association was formed to make sure professional sunbed facilities would not fall victim to the kinds of unopposed attacks that plagued this market for almost 20 years in Washington, D.C.
Since becoming ASA president in 2015, Melinda Norton has led the charge. After five years and thousands of meetings with Norton – oftentimes with other ASA members included as guests – a sizable chunk of Congress now understands that professional tanning businesses are legitimate operators trying to overcome back-room political deals set in place over 20 years from the mid-1990s onward.
For Norton and the ASA team, the attacks from years back are all too fresh and the damage created still plagues our industry today. Without regular representation in Washington, our industry could easily fall prey to additional regulations without our input. “The first lesson I learned about Washington lobbying is that if you don’t have a seat at the table, you’ll be on the plate,” said Norton.
To truly appreciate the job the ASA is doing for the professional indoor tanning industry, take a look at our past experiences with the federal government to better understand how our industry was targeted.
2009: Anti-tanning lobbying efforts result in the highest level of attacks by the federal government on salon owners.
Dr. Howard Koh, a dermatologist, was appointed by the Obama administration as Assistant Secretary for Health in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), positioning anti-tanning initiatives as higher priorities than other more-pressing healthcare issues.
2010: The federal 10% Tan Tax is added to Obamacare in a last-minute political swap by the dermatology industry.
A 5% tax on plastic surgery labeled the “Botax,” was originally set in place to raise $5 billion from dermatology and plastic surgery services. The dermatology industry, along with Botox manufacturers, spent nearly $1 million on lobbying in December 2009, the week before the bill was finalized to have the tax replaced by the 10% tax on indoor tanning services.
2013: A dermatologist is appointed as interim U.S. Surgeon General.
July 17, 2013: Dr. Boris Lushniak, a dermatologist, is appointed acting Surgeon General in the Obama Administration. Just 19 days later, a notice is placed in the federal register for a U.S. Surgeon General report on UV exposure and skin cancer. The final 101-page “Call to Action to Prevent Skin Cancer” unfairly targeting indoor tanning is published just 11 months after the Federal Register notice.
2014-2015: FDA announces new regulations on tanning equipment.
On May 1, 2014 (Melanoma Monday), FDA and AAD hold a joint press conference to announce reclassification of sunbed equipment. These new regulations were a result of the FDA positioning dermatologists on the indoor tanning device oversight committees, which recommended sunbed reclassification from class 1 medical devices to class 2 medical devices, making FDA clearance for sunbeds more difficult and increasing the cost to produce them.
In December, 2015, FDA announces plans for two new proposed rules on indoor tanning equipment. If passed as written, the new rules would include an under-18 federal ban and regulations on exposure schedules, annual limits, 48-hours between exposures, and other restrictions.
2017: NIH Consumer-based Anti-tanning Grants
The National Institutes of Health awards nearly $4 million in grants to universities and private organizations to be used to persuade consumers not to use sunbeds.
Getting It Done
Melinda Norton has learned that we are not the only industry faced with government attacks. Plenty of other industries face regulations, taxes and inspections that make business owners’ lives more challenging. However, the indoor tanning industry today has the most effective professional tanning association available – the ASA.
If you own, or plan to own a professional indoor tanning business, doesn’t it make sense to support the only organization designed to effectively protect your investment for the future? If you’re not an ASA member, please email email@example.com, or call 855.879.7678.
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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