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The Truth About Tanning Bed Legislation in Canada

It’s a start: Some Canadian provinces are stepping up and banning tanning beds for teens. Here’s the latest

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Ban tanning beds for teens

Ban tanning beds for teens

May 6 marks the second annual Melanoma Monday in Canada. The goal of the Canadian Dermatology Association (CDA) is to raise awareness about melanoma-the eighth most common form of cancer in Canada, according to the CDA.

Young people are especially at risk when they use tanning beds: Use of indoor tanning equipment before age 35 increases the risk of getting melanoma by 75 percent. In fact, the World Health Organization puts indoor tanning in its highest cancer risk category-carcinogenic to humans”-alongside substances such as tobacco and arsenic. We’ve been on top of this issue since our 2009 article, “Let’s Outlaw Tanning Beds for Teens.”

Health Canada announced in February that it intends to strengthen warnings. Tanning beds would have the messages “Not recommended for use by those under 18 years of age” and “Tanning equipment can cause cancer,” as well as list risks such as skin and eye burns.

At press time, Health Canada’s draft proposal was open for public comment; decisions on the mandatory warnings could be announced later this year.

But it’s still up to each province and territory to regulate use, including age restrictions, says Sara Lauer, a spokesperson for Health Canada. Here’s where each province stands:

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tanning bed

Newfoundland and Labrador

In June 2012, a bill was introduced that would prohibit anyone under age 19 from using indoor tanning facilities. Although this bill has been passed, the Personal Services Act is not yet in effect. “Regulations that will govern the act are currently being developed and are anticipated to be completed later this year,” a communications representative for the province’s Department of Health and Community Services told Best Health in an email.

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indoor tanning

Prince Edward Island

In June 2012, Health Minister Doug Currie announced plans to ban the use of tanning beds by anyone under 18. At press time, the ban was not yet in effect.

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tanning bed

Nova Scotia

In May 2011, Nova Scotia’s Tanning Beds Act came into effect, making it illegal to provide access to tanning equipment to anyone under age 19.

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New Brunswick

From 1992 to 2009, under-18s in New Brunswick were banned from using tanning beds. The act responsible for that restriction was repealed in 2009 with the introduction of the Public Health Act. Since 2010, only voluntary guidelines have been in effect for tanning operators, which includes an age restriction for youth under 18.

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In February of this year, Quebec banned the use of tanning beds for those under 18.

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Last year, the town of Oakville became the first jurisdiction in Ontario to ban under-18s from using tanning beds. Provincially, in March, Health and Long-Term Care Minister Deb Matthews introduced legislation that, if passed, would prohibit the sale of tanning services to youth under the age of 18. “The legislation still needs to be debated in the Legislature and we hope to have enough support from the opposition parties to see it pass,” Zita Astravas, the minister’s press secretary, told Best Health.

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Effective June 2012, Manitoba introduced informal parental consent requirements when tanning beds are used by those under 18.

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No regulations are currently in place.

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teen in tanning bed


No regulations are currently in place.

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tanning bed empty

British Columbia

Regulations that came into effect in October 2012 ban under-18s from accessing tanning beds in tanning facilities.

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