US Senate throws out proposed ‘botax’

By Simon Pitman

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Health care

After significant lobbying the US senate has decided not to tax cosmetic treatments such as Botox as a means of paying for its government health reform bill.

Botox maker Allergan teamed up with various representative bodies for US plastic surgeons to campaign against the proposed tax, arguing that it went against people who simply want to improve their appearance.

The lobbyist also argued over the fact that the proposed tax would hit the middle classes particularly hard, and in particular working women, who make an important contribution to the US economy.

Allergan even organized a successful campaign through Facebook, which allowed many of its customers to voice their concerns and frustrations over the new tax.

However, in an about turn, the senate has decided that an extra tax will be levied against the use of tanning salons, a move that experts say could also help counter the rising incidence of skin cancer in the country.

The US Tanning Association estimates that there are 20,000 salons throughout the US and says that many of the smaller businesses are likely to be negatively impacted by the decision, which could lead to businesses eventually closing down.

However, the US senate estimates that the tanning tax will help raise $2.7bn that will go towards funding the $1 trillion health care reform bill.

The proposed tax on elective surgical and non surgical treatments would have hit injected anti-aging treatments such as Botox, together with surgical treatments such as silicone plants.

The original proposal had suggested a 10 percent tax, which was then cut to 5 percent – a figure that the senate said would have raised approximately $5bn towards the health reforms bill.

US media coverage of the story coined the phrase ‘Botax’, and caused heated public debate over whether or not it was an ethical move to tax this kind of procedure.

During the lobbying Allergan spokesperson Caroline Van Hove said in a press statement that the proposed tax was ‘unnecessarily punitive’​ towards working women in the US.

Allergan has posted surprisingly good financial results in the face of the global financial downturn, partly due to continued strong sales of Botox, with net sales for the quarter ending in September rising 4.2 percent to $1.13bn.

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