New Tax on Indoor Tanning Goes into Effect

Gisselle Colon wanted to be bronze and beautiful. She sunbathed and bought a membership to a tanning salon several years ago. A month ago, things turned ugly, reports CBS News correspondent Michelle Miller.

"I thought I was going to look prettier and have a tan," Colon said. "I was in shock a day or two before I realized how serious this is."

She has a scar on her leg. In May, Colon was diagnosed with melanoma, one of the deadliest and most preventable forms of cancer. Now, just as the government taxed cigarettes to reduce lung cancer, it's taxing indoor tanning, hoping to reduce the rising rate of melanoma. Originated as an idea to help pay for health care reform, it is expected to rake in $2.7 billion over the next 10 years.

An estimated 30 million Americans use tanning beds each year - 2.3 million are teenagers. It costs about $17 a visit. The 10 percent tax will raise that price by $1.70. It is unclear whether that will be enough to discourage indoor tanners. What is clear, new research finds indoor tanning before the age of 35 increases the risk of melanoma by 75 percent.

Why? Tanning booths emit both UVB and UVA rays. UVB causes the burn, the UVA the tan. Booths like this emit mostly UVA, but the rays can be 12 times stronger than the sun.

"We cannot believe people thing that UVA is safe," said dermatologist Dr. Ellen Marmur.

Marmur said both UVA and UVB cause cancer, and she's diagnosing more young women who started using tanning beds as teens.

"If you get a basic skin cancer in your 20s or 30s, your chance of getting melanoma within the next 10 years are actually much higher. That's a very scary way to live your youth to be constantly worried about lethal skin cancer," Marmur said.

New public service announcements take aim at teen tanning - and so are lawmakers. Thirty-two states now restrict it, such as by requiring parental permission in person. And New York state is considering banning indoor tanning outright for anyone under 18.
"I know it's bad for me and I do it just for color. And I probably will stop doing it," said Andrea Rollins.

What advice would Solon give to women going to tanning salons?

"Stop immediately," she said.

The industry argues tanning is safe in moderation. But doctors say fake tanners are the only safe choice for people who want that summer glow without the risk.