Ontario's tanning bed legislation passes final vote

Mari-Len De Guzman
November 08, 2013
Ontario is moving forward to protect young people against skin cancer with the recent passage of the Skin Cancer Prevention Act, according to a statement from the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care.
The new law restricts youth under 18 from using tanning beds. This age group is especially vulnerable to the harmful effects of ultraviolet (UV) radiation, the ministry said. The act also prohibits marketing of tanning services targeted at youth, requires tanning bed operators to request identification from anyone who appears under 25, and sets fines for operators who fail to comply with the law.

Protecting young people from harmful UV radiation produced by tanning beds helps deliver on the government's Action Plan for Health Care, the ministry said, part of the Ontario government's economic plan to invest in people and infrastructure, and support a dynamic and innovative business climate.

"By passing this bill, we are saving lives," Health and Long-Term Care Minister Deb Matthews. "Restricting access to tanning beds is one of the most important things we can do to help reduce the risk of skin cancer for our young people. I want to thank everyone who worked so hard to pass this lifesaving bill.”

The new rules under the Skin Cancer Prevention Act will be enforced by public health units. The government will consult widely in the coming months on the development of regulations to support the legislation, the ministry said.

The act also includes self-tanning restrictions that prohibit the use of tanning beds that do not require the presence of an attendant.

The World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer reports that the risk of skin cancer — particularly melanoma — increases by 75 per cent when tanning beds are used prior to the age of 35. The incidence of melanoma in Ontario has been rising in youth and young adults (ages 15-34) — especially among females aged 25 to 34 - the ministry said.

Kate Neale, who was diagnosed with skin cancer at 21 years old, welcomed the new legislation. "I’m 23 now and living with the reality that I’ve wrecked my health because I used indoor tanning beds as a teen. I’ve always hoped that one day, no young person in Ontario would be able to use indoor tanning beds like I did. Thanks to the efforts of many, this hope is now a reality.”

"The Canadian Cancer Society celebrates today the collaborative efforts undertaken by thousands of Society volunteers, staff, donors and other stakeholders who have made the #tanbedban movement and the passage of this bill successful," said Martin Kabat, chief executive officer, Canadian Cancer Society Ontario Division. "As we continue to work together towards reducing the number of lives adversely affected by cancer, this piece of legislation will not only help prevent skin cancer but raise awareness about the dangers of indoor tanning.”

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