Manitoba's tanning bed rules for teens criticized

A Manitoba law requiring minors to get their parents' permission before they use tanning beds does not go far enough, according to cancer experts.

Canadian Cancer Society wants indoor tanning by minors banned

A Manitoba law requiring minors to get their parents' permission before they use tanning beds does not go far enough, according to cancer experts.

Starting June 15, anyone under the age of 18 will need to obtain their parents' consent before they can use indoor tanning equipment in salons across the province.

As well, customers under the age of 16 will have to have a parent present in the tanning room while the equipment is being used.

The new rules will also require indoor tanning salons to post warning signs about the risks of skin cancer associated with using tanning beds.

But in a letter to Manitoba Health Minister Theresa Oswald, dated Feb. 6, the Canadian Cancer Society in Manitoba — which helped draft the legislation — says it cannot support the rules as they are.

Ban tanning for minors: society

"The only position that can reasonably be taken is that tanning for minors must be banned, just as the sale of tobacco to minors is banned," the cancer society's letter, obtained by CBC News, states in part.

"As the process of developing the regulations concludes it is important to make clear that we do not support the approach taken by this bill."

A CBC News investigation this week found that some salons — including several in Winnipeg — allow people under 18 to use tanning beds without their parents' consent, even though that's against voluntary industry guidelines.

Steven Gilroy, executive director of the Joint Canadian Tanning Association, said he has been lobbying for government regulations requiring everyone under 18 to obtain parental permission before they can use indoor tanning facilities.

"We've asked for these professional standards by governments because we need to get a better control on this," Gilroy said.

Rules strike balance, says health minister

Oswald said the legislation that will come into effect in Manitoba on June 15 balances the needs of industry with safety.

The rules will let prospective customers make informed decisions before using indoor tanning services, she added.

"We think that where we have landed is a balance, and also a platform to provide education," Oswald said.

But John Douglas of the Canadian Cancer Society said Manitoba's rules do not go far enough.

"We do not believe that anyone who is under 18 should be allowed to use indoor tanning equipment, and we don't believe that the tanning industry should be able to advertise and target that specific age group," he said.

Earlier this year, the Canadian Paediatric Society said children and teens under the age of 18 should not use commercial indoor tanning beds.

Nova Scotia has banned anyone under the age of 19 from using indoor tanning beds since May 2011.

Similar bans in Quebec and British Columbia are poised to come into effect, while Newfoundland and Labrador government has proposed legislation this week.