Manitoba

Cancer survivor wants tanning bed industry banned

Manitoba has finally taken the advice of cancer experts and has committed to banning the use of tanning beds by minors, but some believe it should go further and ban the industry altogether.
Health Canada says the risk of developing skin melanoma increases by 75 per cent when use of tanning beds starts before the age of 35. (CBC)

Manitoba has finally taken the advice of cancer experts and has committed to banning the use of tanning beds by minors, but some believe it should go further and ban the industry altogether.

Cancer survivor Ellen Dueck applauds Manitoba’s announcement in the recent Throne Speech to ban the use of tanning beds by minor. (Courtesy Ellen Dueck)
“I have been waiting for news like that to come out. I think that is the first step to more good news to come in the future, of perhaps banning tanning beds altogether — not just for minors,” said cancer survivor Ellen Dueck.

The Canadian Cancer Society has been lobbying governments for a ban on indoor tanning for minors since 2009 when the World Health Organization classified the rays from tanning beds as a carcinogen.

Manitoba said it would follow this advice in its recent Throne Speech, leaving Saskatchewan and Alberta as the only provinces yet to act.

But a spokesperson for Health Canada, which regulates the sale of tanning machines, said the health department doesn’t recommend the use of tanning beds at all.

Melanoma risk

Health Canada said skin cancer is the most common type of cancer in Canada, and melanoma is its deadliest form.  The agency says the risk of developing skin melanoma increases by 75 per cent when use of tanning beds starts before the age of 35.

Manitoba’s announcement comes two years after the CBC News I-Team demonstrated the tanning industry’s own voluntary guidelines for minors were not being followed.

In 2012 the industry guidelines called for minors to have parental permission to use tanning beds.

CBC News asked a 16-year-old girl to visit five tanning salons in Winnipeg to see if they would allow her into the tanning booth without parental permission. In four out of five salons, she was allowed in.

Similar tests CBC News conducted in six Canadian cities found the teenage testers were allowed into tanning rooms without parental consent at 20 out of 31 salons.

Then in June 2012, the Manitoba government, with Theresa Oswald as health minister, rejected the cancer society’s call for a ban on minors in tanning beds and instead brought in regulations making parental permission mandatory for youths.

At the time, Oswald said the new regulations balanced the needs of industry with safety.

Association supports ban for minors

Parental permission was the position of the tanning industry group at the time, as articulated by the Joint Canadian Tanning Association.

Now, the JCTA supports an outright ban for those under 18, making the Manitoba Throne Speech announcement still in keeping with the industry position.

“We don’t have a problem with it,” the JCTA’s executive director Steven Gilroy told CBC News. “We already put something into effect with our professional standards in August this year, having a ban under 18."

A Sept. 2, 2014, statement by the JCTA said, “there has been a desire recognized by our industry to prevent anyone under 18 from accessing UV tanning. We think that is reasonable.”

Gilroy said the one condition the JCTA requests is that the ban on use by minors has an exception for cases in which a doctor prescribes someone to use a tanning bed for therapeutic reasons.

In 2013, about 6,000 Canadians were diagnosed with melanoma and 1,050 died from it, according to Health Canada.

Comments

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.

Become a CBC Member

Join the conversation  Create account

Already have an account?

now