NDP: Time to flip the switch on youth tanning
QUEEN’S PARK: Indoor tanning, and its negative health affects, are the target of a bill introduced today by France Gélinas, MPP from Nickel Belt and the NDP’s critic for Health and Long-Term Care.
The Skin Cancer Prevention Act will bar young people under the age of 18 from accessing tanning beds. Research has shown that using indoor tanning equipment before the age of 35 increases the risk of developing melanoma—the deadliest form of skin cancer—by 75%.
“Tanning salons directly target youth through advertising in yearbooks and in schools before prom and graduation,” Gélinas said. “Not only do the salons either not know or play down the lifelong consequences of excess exposure to UV rays, they make tanning accessible and attractive for young people.”
Gélinas is not alone in her call for new legislation. She has received thousands of letters and post cards, many from students, asking for the regulation of the tanning industry and an outright ban for youth under 18. These measures are also supported by many healthcare advocacy groups.
The Skin Cancer Prevention Act will ban those under the age of 18 from using indoor ultra violet light treatments or tanning services, except when prescribed by a medical professional. It will also require salons to ensure that all employees who provide treatments have adequate safety training and that warning signs be posted which communicate the risks associated with indoor tanning.
Nova Scotia and British Columbia have already passed bans on indoor tanning for those under 19 and 18 years of age, respectively.
Here is a sample of letters of support:
“A poll completed on behalf of the Canadian Cancer Society in June 2011 showed that 83% of Ontarians support restricting youth under 18 years from indoor tanning. If that isn’t enough for Ontario to take action, a recent survey of indoor tanning among youth aged 12-17 years and found that a shocking one in 10 of all teens are using tanning beds, which is up 5% from six years ago,” Martin Kabat, CEO, Canadian Cancer Society, Ontario Division, said. “The time to enact indoor tanning legislation to protect the health of youth is now!”
“Although melanoma is the most deadly form of skin cancer, it is highly preventable. Up to 90 per cent of melanoma cases are a direct result of exposure to UV radiation which is caused by either sunshine or indoor tanning beds. The World Health Organization has classified indoor tanning beds as a ‘known carcinogen to humans’, putting it in the same classification as tobacco and asbestos,” Annette Cyr, chair of the Melanoma Network of Canada.
According to a recent report by the International Agency for Research on Cancer the use of indoor tanning equipment before the age of 35 raises the risk of developing melanoma by 75 percent. Increased UV exposure is also linked to increased rates of basal and squamous cell carcinomas, two more common forms of skin cancer which, while less deadly, can spread to nearby tissue and may become disfiguring or debilitating.
“As with any known carcinogen, Canadian children and adolescents should be protected from UV radiation emitted by tanning beds. The Canadian Dermatology Association believes regulations must be put in place to prohibit indoor tanning by those under the age of 18, to monitor more closely the levels of UV radiation emitted by various tanning beds and to ensure adequate warning labelling on artificial tanning equipment,” Denise Wexler, president of the Canadian Dermatology Association.
Young women aged 16-24 are the most likely to seek out a tan, with 26 percent turning to indoor tanning equipment. Medical groups see this trend reflected in increased skin cancer rates: among youths and young adults aged 15-29, melanoma is the second most common cancer and rises to the rank of most common among those aged 26-29.
“Pediatricians and dermatologists are concerned that artificial tanning salons have proliferated throughout North America, and that their popularity is growing. Thousands of Ontarians, particularly our youth, frequent these tanning parlours each year at increasing rates,” Dr. Hirotaka Yamashiro, chair of the Pediatritics Section of the Ontario Medical Association, and Dr. Samir Gupta, chair of the Section on Dermatology of OMA, wrote in a joint letter.
“Children’s skin is more sensitive to UV radiation than that of adults. As a result, anyone under the age of 18 is at greater risk for developing cancer when exposed to UV,” Leona Yez, executive director of the Canadian Skin Cancer Foundation.
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