Tanning guidelines toothless, says Opposition

The provincial government will introduce new guidelines Thursday afternoon for the tanning bed industry on P.E.I.

The provincial government introduced new guidelines Thursday afternoon for the tanning bed industry on P.E.I.

P.E.I.'s guidelines would prevent anyone under the age of 18 from using a tanning device. But they are just guidelines to be followed voluntarily by the industry.

P.E.I.'s office of environmental health will conduct a compliance audit.

Health minister Doug Currie said he believes the guidelines will be followed.

"We've got guidelines and what I would expect as the minister on this issue is 100 per cent compliance," Currie said Thursday. "When you're dealing with the health and safety of individuals and young adolescents, there is no room to be flexible on it."

But health critic James Aylward says guidelines don't have any teeth.

He wants P.E.I. to follow Nova Scotia and bring in enforceable legislation.

"What we would really advocate for is regulations," Aylward told CBC News. "Particularly around individuals or the youth 18 years of age and under. Banning, restricting them from use of tanning beds."

Nova Scotia passed legislation a year ago that bans people under 19 from using commercial tanning beds.

New Brunswick brought in guidelines in 2010, though they are voluntary. 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.

The Island has a rate of skin cancer 40 per cent higher than the Canadian average.

A study commissioned by the Canadian Cancer Society in Ontario shows guidelines, like those being introduced Thursday, are not effective.

Lori Barker, executive director of the P.E.I. division of the Canadian Cancer Society said it could be confusing to understand the difference between guidelines and legislation.

She said the society would continue to lobby for legislation.

"I am going to give the opportunity for the owners and operators. I'm going to be respectful, but we are going to be clear," Currie said. "This is a very important issue."

The study says undercover customers visited several tanning salons in Toronto, and many were not following federal Health Canada guidelines.