Bill preventing under-18s from tanning introduced in Ont.
Published Thursday, April 26, 2012 12:27PM EDT
A private member's bill targeting the use of indoor tanning salons by teens was introduced Thursday at Queen's Park at 1:15 p.m.
The bill that was introduced by France Gélinas, MPP for Nickel Belt and NDP health critic, would bar the use of indoor tanning salons by anyone under the age of 18. The NDP have called the bill the "Skin Cancer Prevention Act."
The proposed bill would ban those under 18 from using indoor tanning beds, except when prescribed by a medical professional. It would also require salons to display signs stating the health risks associated with indoor tanning, as well as ensure salon employees have adequate safety training. The bill would also establish a registry of tanning salons and restrict the marketing of indoor tanning services to youth under 18.
Gélinas spoke of the rising rate of skin cancer among teens and young adults and also criticized the marketing strategies of the tanning industry, which specifically target teens through advertisements in school yearbooks.
"The tanning salons will promote their products, they will say ‘It's safer to sit in a tanning booth than to sit in the sun,'" she said at a press conference this morning. "They will tell you it will boost your vitamin d, that you need a base tan to protect against cancer. All of those claims are false. There is no safe tan."
Research shows that using indoor tanning equipment before the age of 35 increases the risk of developing melanoma — the deadliest form of skin cancer — by 75 per cent. Melanoma is the second most common cancer among young adults between the ages of 15-29.
Indoor tanning has been increasing in popularity with Ontario youth. A recent survey commissioned by the Canadian Cancer Society found that one in 10 teens between the ages of 12-17 are using tanning beds in Ontario, an increase of five per cent from six years ago. The survey also found that approximately 21 per cent of grade 12 students in Ontario use tanning salons.
Gélinas said she has received thousands of letters and post cards from supporters of the bill. Many of these letters came from concerned youth.
"Many teens have recognized the trap that indoor tanning poses to the health of their peers," she said. "Youth understand that their peers need to be protected."
Martin Kabat, CEO of the Canadian Cancer Society Ontario Division praised the proposed bill at the press conference. The Canadian Cancer Society has been calling for this type of legislation for over six years, he said.
"This must be the year that this legislation is enacted," said Kabat. "This is a behaviour that is crying out to be controlled."
"This bill will not only protect youth, it will help parents understand how much closer to cancer their children are when they engage in this risky behaviour," he said.
Sonia-Lynn Rodrigues, owner of the Afterglo Tan Bar in downtown Toronto, said she isn't too concerned about the impact of the proposed bill.
"There are only a handful of people under the age of 18 who are coming in," she told CP24 reporter Katie Simpson. "Those who are coming in, the majority are coming with mom or dad, and they're either doing the tanning beds or they're doing our other alternative which is our spray tan."
If the bill is passed, Ontario will be the third province in Canada to regulate the tanning industry. British Columbia and Nova Scotia have already passed bans on indoor tanning for those under 18 and 19 years of age, respectively.