As proposed tan-bans for those under 18 keep popping up in the various state legislatures, the Indoor Tanning Association encourages tanning professionals to form organizations to combat these bills.
With the ITA solely focused on a number of important issues at the Federal level, it’s up to salon owners to fight bills seeking to set age limits upon indoor tanning. While a rare few operators have taken such battles upon themselves, others have recognized that there is strength in numbers and have formed state tanning organizations. Either way, the best tool for addressing anti-tanning legislation is a group of motivated tanning salon professionals dedicated to fighting the good fight.
“As a paid representative for the indoor tanning industry,” says John Overstreet, ITA Executive Director, “I speak with lawmakers all the time. While this helps our cause, it’s the voices of the voters in these politicians’ districts that really make the difference. This is why it’s important for salon owners to become politically involved.” Overstreet recommends salon owners get to know their elected officials by volunteering to work on their campaigns, attending fundraisers and simply talking to them. The second half of becoming politically involved, Overstreet says, is teaming with other salon owners to form a state tanning organization. “It’s more difficult for legislators to enact a bill that will do harm to the group of voters they’ve come to know and trust,” Overstreet added.
The most recent state tanning success story involves the Maryland Indoor Tanning Association, which has successfully stopped proposed under-18 bans since its inception in 2010. The group is headed by Robin and Marty Eason, owners of SunSeekers, Inc. in Crofton. “We had been working with the ITA and lobbyists since the legislation was first proposed in 2004,” Robin said. “We’ve succeeded at stopping it, but it keeps coming back each year as new legislators adopt it as their cause.” Realizing that this would be an ongoing battle, Robin and Marty reached out to about 130 Maryland salon owners to form the MITA. “There will always be some who won’t join because their competitors belong,” Robin said, “so we simply focus on those who are willing to take a stand for the industry.”
Forming a state tanning association, Robin says, can be accomplished in five easy steps. “The first thing you have to do is reach out to every salon owner in your state,” she said. “Then, you need to consult with a good lobbyist because these professionals know how the system works. Once you find your lobbyist, take the time to educate him or her about the indoor tanning industry.” The fourth step is raising money to pay for the continuing lobbying efforts while coordinating with the ITA is the fifth. “I’ve worked with John Overstreet on many occasions,” Robin said, “and he’s always been extremely knowledgeable and willing to help.” At least two other state tanning organizations have been active in the legislative arena – the California Indoor Tanning Trade Organization (CITTO) and the Florida Indoor Tanning Salon Organization (FITSO).
One tanning salon owner has taken it upon himself to fund efforts to lobby against proposed age-restrictions in two states. Brian Belt, owner of At the Beach based in Denver, CO, has spent more than $100,000 over the past three years hiring lobbyists in Colorado and Oklahoma, the states where his 73 salons are located. “I don’t believe an under-18 ban would be good for our business,” Brian said. “Since I have a lot invested in this industry, I want to be involved in the process of regulating it rather than leaving it up to lawmakers who don’t understand indoor tanning.”
While lawmakers often say age restrictions should be enacted to protect people, the true goal seems to be further restricting salon owners’ ability to earn a living. This is why the ITA believes these legislative battles must continue to be fought by salon owners who are politically involved. The organization is willing to offer its experience to aid salon pros in these battles. For more information, contact the ITA at 888.377.0477, or visit theITA.com.
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."
Copyright 2020 ist Magazine