New York City’s Mayor Michael Bloomberg has a new anti-tanning offensive, but the Indoor Tanning Association has always been reluctant to play “Let’s Make a Deal.”
Mayor Bloomberg is known for his health crusades. During his 12 years in office, he’s been responsible for banning smoking and trans-fats in the city as well as requiring the listing of calories in fast food restaurants, and he also waged campaigns against the size of fountain sodas and other sugary drinks as well as raising the legal age for smoking. Now he’s set his sights on indoor tanning, planning to require the city’s health department to inspect salons, enforce an under-17 ban and launch a public education campaign about the dangers of UV overexposure, among other things.
Under the leadership of Executive Director John Overstreet, the ITA has been battling state and federal lawmakers on behalf of indoor tanning since 2000. Upon hearing news of Bloomberg’s plans for tanning salons in the Big Apple, Overstreet urges the industry to enter into any discussion with government officials with their eyes wide open. “No agreement any government agency or legislative body has ever made with the ITA was binding beyond the next election,” said Overstreet. In 2005, the ITA agreed to an under-14 ban to stave off the California legislature’s proposed under-18 ban. Two years later, the ITA fought an under-16 ban there and won, but was unable to stop the under-18 ban proposed by California lawmakers in 2011. “We had similar experiences in New York and Texas,” he added.
Of all the aspects of Bloomberg’s plan, Overstreet says he’s most concerned with Bloomberg’s desire to launch a public education campaign about the dangers of too much UV exposure. Overstreet believes the “campaign” will be overtly anti-tanning and as proof, he cited recent statements made by Daniel Kass, New York Deputy Health Commissioner for Environmental Health. “There is no doubt that tanning increases the risk of skin cancer,” Kass told the media. “Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer. We want to make sure kids are not using these salons.”
Due to Bloomberg’s latest efforts, Overstreet urges tanning professionals to get involved with local and state politics. “It’s imperative for everyone in this industry to reach out to their state and local lawmakers,” he said, “because it’s the voices of the voters in their districts that really make the difference. Get to know your state and local lawmakers on a first-name basis, because these relationships will be very helpful now and in the future.” Most lawmakers have only heard negative things about indoor tanning, so Overstreet says the simple act of talking with a lawmaker could change that elected official’s opinion for the better.
Rather than wait for the government to make it mandatory, Overstreet urges all tanning salon operators to obtain professional training and certification. “I’m happy to endorse training programs such as Sun Is Life® because it does not promote making health claims to the public,” he said. “This is an excellent training and certification program that offers a solid foundation for responsible salon operation that I believe all salon pros should consider.” Overstreet added that voluntarily seeking proper training and certification are the steps tanning pros need to take to project a positive and professional image in their communities.
The ITA will continue to monitor this issue proposed by Mayor Bloomberg. Salon owners are encouraged to join and support the organization in all its efforts.
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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