NBMS and Canadian Cancer Society call for legislation banning youth from using tanning beds

The New Brunswick Medical Society is joining the Canadian Cancer Society New Brunswick in calling for a provincial ban on indoor tanning for youth.

Artificial UV tanning has been classified as a carcinogen by the World Health Organization, and is banned for minors in many Canadian jurisdictions, including the provinces of British Columbia, Quebec and Nova Scotia. The New Brunswick Medical Society and the Canadian Cancer Society want the Province of New Brunswick to follow suit.

“New Brunswick’s doctors know that we need a ban on artificial UV tanning for minors,” said Dr Robert Desjardins, President of the New Brunswick Medical Society. “Unfortunately, parental consent doesn’t work. Tanning beds are carcinogens to human health, just like smoking. You can’t buy cigarettes with your parent’s permission.”

“Melanoma skin cancer is one of the most common cancers for young people between the ages of 15 and 29,” said Anne McTiernan-Gamble, CEO of the Canadian Cancer Society New Brunswick. “Research has conclusively determined a direct link between using indoor tanning equipment and skin cancer. It only makes sense that the Province of New Brunswick enacts legislation to protect our youth from the harmful effects of tanning beds.”

Dr. Rob Hayes, a Quispamsis-based dermatologist, agrees that the time has come for legislation to ban tanning. “Provincial evidence shows what I see in my office: New Brunswick’s voluntary guidelines on tanning beds are not working.”

From 1992 to 2009, New Brunswick was the only province in Canada that banned youth from using tanning beds. When the Public Health Act was enacted in 2009, the Radiological Health Protection Act was repealed, taking with it a regulation that banned minors from using tanning beds. In 2010, the Department of Health introduced a set of voluntary guidelines for tanning bed operators which included an age restriction for youth under 18, and a requirement to display mandatory health warnings. According to the results of an evaluation carried out by the Department of Health last year, more than half (55%) of the salons evaluated for the minimum age compliance would have allowed someone under the age of 18 to use their tanning beds. In addition, 75% had failed to display all mandatory health warnings.

“Clearly, guidelines are insufficient in regulating tanning salons,” said Ms. McTiernan-Gamble.

“As a dermatologist, I’m concerned by the problems I see in many young people – particularly women – who have used tanning beds,” says Dr. Hayes. “They need to understand that there is no occasion when a tan is a good idea. Prom, trips down South, high school photos – it doesn’t matter. A short-term tan is a long-term health problem.”