More than half of the tanning salons in New Brunswick aren't following Department of Health age guidelines, which has the provincial branch of the Canadian Cancer Society calling for stronger legislation.

Fifty-five per cent of salons evaluated for minimum age compliance would have let someone under the age of 18 use tanning beds, said manager of prevention Rosemary Boyle.

In addition, the evaluation conducted by the Department of Health in the fall, also found that 75 per cent of salons failed to display all mandatory health warnings.

As a result, the Cancer Society is calling on the province to follow the lead of Nova Scotia and bring in legislation, rather than mere guidelines.

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The New Brunswick branch of the Canadian Cancer Society says voluntary guidelines aren't working. (iStock)

"This is a protection issue," said Boyle.

"You know, we protect youth from driving too young, we have an age restriction on driving. We have an age restriction on alcohol purchase. We have an age restriction in purchase of cigarettes.

"So it only makes sense that there needs to be an age restriction on this as well."

In 2009, the World Health Organization classified UV-emitting devices, including commercial tanning beds, as definitely causing cancer in humans.

"It's apparent that guidelines are not working," said Boyle.

"That this has been an experiment that tanning salons have not succeeded in very well. So regulation is required," she said.

"We think that there needs to be a focus on two things in particular."

"One is the age restriction, and the second is health warnings on these pieces of equipment so that people that are using tanning salons are informed about the risks associated with them."

Many salons unaware

Randy Collette, who owns Fun Tan tanning salon in Dieppe, said he ensures his business complies with the province's guidelines.

But not everyone knows they exist, he said.

"A lot of people weren't even aware that this was going on," said Collette.

"Some of my wholesale clients are calling up and they have not even received anything in the mail, too. So like I say, it's hard to enforce something that they were not aware of."

The province did a poor job of informing people, said Collette.

"I wish there would have been a phone call or orientation so these salons that a lot of people that didn't see it or didn't receive it could have be advised of it." 

Collette said he’s not opposed to regulation.

"I think really if we work together we could have a better resolution to the problem."

New Brunswick brought in voluntary guidelines in 2010. They include an age limit of 18, a ban on advertising any health benefits of artificial tanning and a limit of one tan every 48 hours.

P.E.I. tanning salons currently follow the self-regulation model.

In Nova Scotia, rules around tanning salons were enshrined in law last year.