The Ontario government made a promise last year to look into protecting our youth from the harmful effects of UV radiation from artificial tanning equipment.
Yet a year has passed and no action has been taken to introduce legislation that would restrict youth under 18 years of age from accessing artificial tanning equipment. The Canadian Cancer Society has been calling for action on this issue for three years.
In that time, evidence that tanning equipment causes skin cancer has continued to grow. In July, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) reclassified tanning equipment as a Group 1 carcinogen, the highest cancer risk category.
“There is solid scientific evidence as well as public support for a ban on artificial tanning for youth under 18,” says Rowena Pinto, Senior Director, Public Affairs, Ontario Division, Canadian Cancer Society. “We want to know why the Ontario government still hasn’t moved on legislation that would protect youth from developing skin cancer.”
Why the Ontario government should introduce legislation restricting youth under 18 from accessing artificial tanning equipment:
– In 2005, the World Health Organization called for a ban on the use of artificial tanning equipment by youth under 18 – In July 2009, IARC reclassified tanning equipment to the highest cancer risk category. – There is broad public support for this legislation as demonstrated by a Canadian Cancer Society poll conducted in January 2009 that showed 80% of the population would support the idea of government implementing artificial tanning legislation. – Over 800 letters have been signed by Ontarians asking the government to act now on artificial tanning legislation.
Shelly Bresset, a volunteer with the Canadian Cancer Society knows first-hand about the harmful effects of tanning beds. Her husband, a body builder and frequent user of artificial tanning equipment died three years ago after a courageous battle with melanoma skin cancer.
“My husband didn’t know the risks associated with using tanning equipment,” says Shelly. “He thought his behaviours were healthy, and instead they took his life.”
Skin cancer accounts for every one in three cancer diagnoses. Melanoma skin cancer is one of the most common forms of cancer in young Ontarians aged 15 to 29 years of age and is mostly preventable.
In addition to a ban on the use of artificial tanning by youth under 18, the Society and its volunteers are calling for other measures to protect the health of youth, including the development of a registry of artificial tanning equipment in use in this province and restrictions on marketing tanning devices to youth.
The Canadian Cancer Society is concerned that youth in Ontario face an unnecessary risk for skin cancer as more than 50,000 students use tanning beds in this province. Artificial tanning equipment can emit UVR at levels that are five times stronger than the mid-day summer sun.
CANADIAN CANCER SOCIETY (ONTARIO DIVISION)