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Tanning beds: The new Marlboro Reds

December 22, 2009 |  8:00 am

Tanning-beds
Baking your body inside a tanning bed has always been detrimental to your skin. But it may soon also wreak havoc on your wallet.

This past weekend, the Senate amended the embattled healthcare bill by replacing the proposed 5% tax on elective plastic surgery procedures with a proposed 10% tax on indoor tanning. The tax would raise an estimated $2.7 billion over 10 years.

The so-called "Botax" on elective surgeries raised the ire of the American Medical Assn., which cried discrimination against women (as they're more likely to opt for plastic surgery than men). Apparently, the tanning bed industry doesn't pack as much clout -- so weekly trips to the local tanning salon might be significantly more expensive in the future.

Lawmakers love to tax things that are bad for you -- the higher costs are meant to be a further deterrent. And like smoking a pack of Camels every day, "bronzing" your epidermis regularly has been inextricably linked to cancer. Nose jobs may be steeped in vanity, but they at least have the power to improve mental states.

So I started thinking about what other societal "ills" could raise a little bread for our hobbled economy...

* Stiletto heels over 4 inches tall. Bad for the back, bad for the foot arch -- good for the economy?

* Vanity dogs. That pint-sized Pomeranian in the Louis Vuitton case that yaps at you in line at Whole Foods could pitch in for the greater good.

* "Embellished" jeans and T-shirts dripping with tattoo graphics and "crystals." OK, so they're not exactly detrimental to the wearer. But they've been making our eyes bleed for some time now.

-- Emili Vesilind

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