Liberals push for speed on anti-tanning bill

The Liberal party plans to fast-track a bill that will prevent Ontario youth from using tanning beds.

Bill 30, also known as the Skin Cancer Prevention Act, was submitted to the House last March, but the Conservative opposition blocked progress on the bill by extending debate on three other bills for more than 55 hours.

Health Minister Deb Matthews has reported both opposition parties have agreed to move the bill forward now that the House is back in session.

Fast-tracking the bill “will ensure that this legislation is passed into law before more youth use tanning beds this winter, preventing the needless risk of more harm caused by skin cancer,” said Liberal Government House Leader John Milloy in an email.

If the bill passes, it would be illegal to sell tanning services to people under the age of 18 and salon operators would be obligated to request identification from anyone who appears to be under 25. Advertisements and marketing geared towards minors would also be prohibited. Those that break the rules could be fined up to $25,000.

Research has shown that UV rays from tanning equipment use increases the risk of skin cancer, and youth are particularly vulnerable.

But despite widespread health warnings, many young people are still going under the lamp.

Arts student Rachael Powell is on the fence about the proposed legislation to ban youth from tanning beds.

“I’m 50/50. I’ve seen people that have no problem with it [but] my friend’s mom has sunspots from doing it too often.”

Powell began tanning when she was 17, but a by-law which prevented anyone under 18 from using tanning beds came into effect and put an end to her salon visits.

“I only went for one month but (I went) every other day or every two days,” Powell said. “(My mom) didn’t really like it because of the bad things you hear about tanning beds, but I didn’t really care because I’m pale.”

Powell said she and her friends began tanning because they were part of a competitive dance team and wanted to look a little darker on stage, but she wouldn’t continue to tan for a long period of time, even if the ban didn’t exist.

According to a report produced by Toronto Public Health, “indoor tanning equipment use among Grade 11 and 12 Ontario students doubled between 2006 and 2012, from seven per cent to 16 per cent.”

Public health officials also noted that youth are less likely to consider the long-term health consequences of tanning and the health effects which may take years to develop.

Vanessa Dias, 23, agrees that banning youth is a good idea. “When you’re a teenager you see what everybody else does (and) you want to do it,” she said. “You see Kim Kardashian and Snooki and they’re tan all the time so you want to do that yourself.”

The biology student has been tanning for three years, but said she only goes two or three times each winter.

“I would be concerned about skin cancer if I did it on a regular basis,” she said.

Legislation banning tanning beds for minors is already in effect in Prince Edward Island, Quebec, British Columbia, Nova Scotia and Newfoundland. In Manitoba, teens need parental consent to use them.

As for Rachael, she said she’ll probably use tanning beds again in moderation during the winter. “I do want to stay a nice colour.”

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