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Reform's tanning-bed tax may save lives

NEW YORK, March 23 (UPI) -- The 10 percent excise tax on the use of indoor tanning beds as part of healthcare reform may save lives, U.S. skin experts suggest.

Dr. Bruce E. Katz, educational spokesman for The Skin Cancer Foundation, says there are more than 3.5 million estimated cases of skin cancer detected each year -- making it the most common cancer in the United States. Research has proven an association between all forms of skin cancer and ultraviolet radiation, including the ultraviolet radiation from indoor tanning beds, Katz says.

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On an average day, more than 1 million Americans use tanning salons. First exposure to tanning beds in youth increases melanoma risk by 75 percent, Katz says.

"This tax is a master stroke, akin to the sin tax on cigarettes; both tanning and smoking are activities scientifically proven to cause harm to the human body," Katz says in a statement.

"The tax will hopefully serve a double purpose, not only raising billions for healthcare, but giving people one more reason to protect their health by staying away from tanning salons."

People who use tanning beds are 2.5 times more likely to develop squamous cell carcinoma and 1.5 times more likely to develop basal cell carcinoma, Katz adds.

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