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Banning minors from tanning beds is true cancer prevention

By PCN Staff

You may not realize it but in Canada more-and-more kids are regularly using tanning beds – often several times a week! Many know about the dangers of ultraviolet (UV) radiation, but peer pressure and concern for looking healthy far outstrip the risk. A recent Ipsos Reid poll of almost 1,500 Ontario students found that 21% of Grade 12 students were using tanning beds! These numbers are far too high, and, if unchecked, will lead to countless preventable cases of cancer in this generation of youth.

For most young people, appearance was the motivation behind their tanning (61 per cent said they look better with a tan). Many also said they chose to use tanning beds because their friends do it, and there is a disturbing ‘tanorexia’ myth at play that tanning makes them look skinnier!

Tanning salons directly – and very effectively – target youth through advertising online, in yearbooks and in schools, especially before prom and graduation. Of course the advertising doesn’t mention that tanning beds greatly increase the risk of melanoma, which can be a highly invasive cancer that can be difficult to treat.

Just recently new data emerged showing a spike in skin cancer among young adults, with tanning beds implicated as a factor. So why isn’t every province adopting precautionary measures?? It’s not only the right thing to do from a health and moral standpoint, it’s good public policy. A healthy population is a productive one, and every case of cancer we can prevent will save our already-burdened health care system hundreds of thousands of dollars.

So what’s happening across Canada? Here’s a run-down:

  • Nova Scotia has a ban in place since November 2010 on children under 19 using tanning beds
  • B.C. will introduce regulations this year that will make it illegal for children under 18 to use tanning salons
  • An Ontario Private Members Bill (tabled last week) looks to ban those under 18 from tanning
  • France and the U.K., have restrictions on youth tanning
  • New South Wales, Australia will ban tanning beds outright by 2014


The World Health Organization has declared both kinds of ultraviolet radiation as Class 1 cancer-causing agents — the same carcinogenic rating given to tobacco and asbestos. Last year, an estimated 5,500 Canadians were diagnosed with melanoma and about 950 were expected to die from the disease. More than 74,000 were told they had other types of skin cancer.

An increasing number of medical and health groups, including the Canadian Dermatological Association and the Canadian Medical Association, are calling for a ban on minors using tanning beds. Let’s join them and TAKE ACTION today!

Hand written letters will make a difference!

If you live OUTSIDE British Columbia or Nova Scotia please drop-off or mail a hand-written letter explaining your concerns about teen tanning and expressing your support for a provincial ban.

If you ARE FROM British Columbia or Nova Scotia please send a hand-written letter and express your support for your government’s leadership on this important issue. Your Premier is setting an example for Canada and the world and they deserve our praise and support.

Please send us an email and let us know!

We know it is a lot easier to just click a link and send a pre-written email. But the reality is politicians will value your hand-written letter much higher than an email (no matter how well written).

As this is an extremely important issue – one that we can win – we urge you to Take Action and send your letter before you forget! You can find full contact information for your Premier and Health Minister here and your MPP/MLA here. If you have time please also send a hand-written letter to your provincial Health Minister and MLA/ MPP.

Please also consider making a donation to Prevent Cancer Now today. You can be assured your donation will go to towards true prevention initiatives like this one. We need you more than ever. Future generations need you.

UPDATE: Illicit teen tanning: Salons allowing youth to tan without parental consent, CBC News Exposé, June 6, 2012

RELATED: Skin cancer warnings ignored, CBC Mews, May 11, 2012

Also in the Spring 2012 Issue of An Ounce

Published: May 14th, 2012