Rep. Jason Smith (R-Mo.) raised what he believed to be a burning issue on International Women’s Day: The Affordable Care Act’s “tanning tax” “hurts” American women.
The House Ways and Means Committee met on Wednesday to discuss the GOP’s plans to repeal and replace Obamacare. One item up for repeal is the ACA’s 10 percent tax on indoor tanning services. Republicans argue the tax has cost jobs, and some claim it is racist because it discriminates against people with light skin.
In response to Republicans’ plan to remove the tax, the American Academy of Dermatology released a statement opposing the changes.
“The Academy is disappointed that the proposed repeal legislation ignores the serious public health impact of indoor tanning and the dramatic rise of skin cancer in young women,” the statement reads.
Rep. Sander Levin (D-Mich.) presented additional research showing the increased cancer risks that indoor tanning beds pose and likened the issue to taxing cigarettes.
But Smith claimed the health risks were akin to eating too much ice cream. He speculated that the tax was created to unfairly target women, rather than protect people.
“What I found on Google is roughly 80 percent of who’s taxed is women. Today’s International Women Day. It’s interesting that no one is bringing that up,” said Smith, who cosponsored 2015 legislation to defund Planned Parenthood.
“Whoever decided to impose this tax seven years ago, before I was here, I’d be quite curious of why did they just randomly pick this tax to have it paid for on the backs of so many females,” he continued. “When you just look at the facts, roughly 80 percent of the individuals who are burdened with this tax are females. It looks like an interesting target, which I think is inappropriate.”
When millions joined in the Women’s March on Washington in January, and in sister rallies around the world, participants didn’t seem to mention the “tanning tax” as being one of the overbearing, burdensome pieces of legislation that the government imposed on women.
Smith eventually circled back to the health risks that indoor tanning salons pose.
But then he offered a different solution to combat skin cancer.
“If you look at the number one cause of skin cancer, it’s not tanning beds. It’s the sun,” Smith said. “So why have [Democrats] not proposed a tax on the sun instead of tanning beds?”