If the government banned tanning for everyone under 21, would your business survive? One tanning industry veteran says that such a scenario could be in this industry’s future.
Under-21 tanning bans could spell disaster for salon owners in every state, according to tanning industry veteran Rob Quinn. While no state or local legislature is currently proposing such measures, Quinn believes that it’s only a matter of time before they do, citing New York City’s recent passing of a bill banning tobacco sales to anyone under 21 as proof. Indoor tanning’s detractors have always compared UV tanning to tobacco use, he says, and those same critics have proven they’ll stop at nothing to regulate this industry out of business. Fortunately, Quinn sees a way of heading off such prospective legislation at the pass, but it will take an indoor tanning industry that’s focused, prepared and willing to fight it out to the end.
As a salon owner with 15 years experience and an Indoor Tanning Association Board member, Rob Quinn is familiar with attacks upon the industry he loves. His concerns about possible tanning bans were raised after reading a November 13 article in the Columbus Dispatch, in which columnist Micah Berman suggests Ohio should follow NYC’s lead with an under-21 smoking ban. “Business owners need to understand that this is not speculation,” said Quinn. “Several years ago, we saw an under-21 ban proposed in draft legislation in North Carolina and an outright ban on all indoor tanning was introduced in the New York Legislature by a member of the Health Committee.” He added that tanning’s detractors have long compared the activity to smoking cigarettes so it would be naïve to think that these same critics aren’t making the connection between the proposed tobacco bills and something similar for indoor tanning already. He believes our critics and detractors will simply wait to see if more states and municipalities follow New York’s lead on this issue. If similar bills are passed in other areas, he says it will be only a matter of time before the first under-21 tanning ban appears in a state legislature.
The article that Quinn read stated that the smoking ban was designed to curb underage smoking and it was successful in doing so. Lawmakers in Needham, MA implemented the law in 2005, and reported a nearly 50 percent drop in the number of high school students who smoked between 2006 and 2010. “While curbing underage smoking is a good thing,” Quinn said, “our detractors continue to use one-sided science to keep people from tanning even moderately. Their goal for such a bill would be to simply make it nearly impossible for us to do business.” He added that while under-18 bans have little effect upon most tanning salon owners, an under-21 ban would be a crippling blow to salons nationwide. “Many of us would go out of business,” Quinn said. He cited the Ohio House of Representatives passing of HB 144, which bans e-cigarette sales to anyone 18 and under, as proof of his claims. On December 6, 2013 the bill passed 66-25 and awaits approval in the state’s Senate.
A continued commitment to fighting under-18 tanning bills is the direction this industry needs to take, according to Quinn. “Yes, this is a very expensive and time consuming process,” he added, “but it’s an absolutely necessary one. If we don’t draw a line in the sand, it will be drawn for us and we won’t be happy with the results.” When state legislatures introduce an under-18 tanning ban, the industry’s response has been to hire lobbyists and have salon owners in that state make connections with their representatives to help stop such bills from passing. Quinn believes the industry must continue this practice. Quinn believes the industry must continue this practice. “I think it is a mistake to give up this fight,” he added, “because there’s too much riding on it. If the national associations can’t afford to fight these battles or aren’t willing to fight them, it will fall on salon owners in the affected states to make the decision whether or not to oppose these bills.”
A 14-year industry veteran, John "Ribby" Ribner has written hundreds of
articles for IST Magazine and, as Director of Editorial Content, has also
helped guide the publication's evolution. Ribby is a graduate of Central
Michigan University's journalism program and has brought many years of newspaper reporting experience to his position of Head Writer. He is also the author of three novels, "Legacy of the Bear," "Prophecy of the Bear" and "World So Dark."
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