Tanning bed rules released

Teresa Wright
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Guidelines don't go far enough for those seeking ban

Chief Health Officer Dr. Heather Morrison and Health Minister Doug Currie speak about the Province's new tanning guidelines.

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CHARLOTTETOWN - The P.E.I. government released new guidelines Thursday restricting minors from using tanning beds and regulating their use for adults.

However, operators will not be forced to comply with the new rules and health advocates say that's not good enough.

Prince Edward Island has the second highest rate of melanoma in the country. In 2009, the World Health Organization moved UV tanning beds to its highest cancer risk category - Class 1, carcinogenic to humans.

Health Minister Doug Currie said Thursday these facts are the reason government has brought in new guidelines for tanning bed operators in the province.

"This is a significant issue and we need to take action to start educating the public, especially those who are the most vulnerable," Currie said during a news conference.

The guidelines restrict those under 18 from using tanning beds and require operators to display mandatory health warnings about the risks of ultraviolet radiation.

People seeking tanning services are to be assessed and put into one of six skin type categories. Those identified with very light skin who burn easily, such as those with red or blond hair and freckles, are also to be restricted from using tanning beds.

But these guidelines are not legislated requirements. Public health officers will be auditing tanning bed salons across the province over the next year to check whether businesses are complying. But if they are not, no corrective measures will be taken.

Dr. Ian Reid, a physician who is also a melanoma survivor, showed up as a concerned citizen at the news conference Thursday.

He grilled Currie on these guidelines, pressing him to commit to bringing in legislation if businesses do not comply with the guidelines.

Currie told Reid he would indeed make it law if tanning bed businesses do not respect the new rules.

He said he wants to begin by trying to work collaboratively with businesses and the public and educating them about the risks instead of just outright banning it.

"My message to the operators who own these salons is very clear... we're prepared to work with them and there is an expectation of compliance and that we'll be monitoring that compliance, and whether it's in three months or six months if we feel that compliance is not being respected then it'll be dealt with," Currie said.

"As the minister I'm prepared to bring in legislation we have to bring in legislation."

Reid said he believes a full ban will be necessary.

"In my view the risks of cancer from tanning beds are parallel to the risks of cancer from tobacco... I think this is a good initiative but I have my concerns whether the tanning bed industry would be willing to be compliant and protect people."

Lori Barker, executive director of the P.E.I. division of the Canadian Cancer Society, said she believes this is a good first step, but will continue pushing for a full ban.

"We feel very strongly that formal legislation needs to be put in place to ensure the protection of the young people here on P.E.I."

Opposition Health Critic James Aylward said he too believes it should be banned for minors and plans to press Currie on it in the legislature. He said he doesn't understand why legislation is not being brought in when it will likely be necessary in the future.

"I'm happy to see something starting, however I am disappointed we're not taking the lead on this along with Nova Scotia," Aylward said.

"I really believe that we're going to get down the road and find there's going to be a need to ban, so why not just go there right off the bat?"

Nova Scotia is the only province in Canada with legislation banning the use of tanning beds for youth under 19.

New Brunswick has non-legislated guidelines similar to P.E.I.'s and is currently conducting a compliance audit.


Organizations: World Health Organization, P.E.I. division, Canadian Cancer Society

Geographic location: Prince Edward Island, CHARLOTTETOWN, Nova Scotia Canada New Brunswick

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Recent comments

    December 21, 2011 - 12:15

    People under the age of 19 smoke cigarettes daily, and people under the legal drinking age still drink alcohol and no strict legal actions are in place; so why should this be any different? People choose to harm their bodies every day and they are quite aware of the consequences but still continue to do so. This law is not going to cut down in the percentage of people who get Melanoma. People who go tanning are aware of the consequences and the negative impact it could have, but they still do it anyway because they want too. People should be allowed to look the way they want to, so if someone wants to look tanned they should completely be allowed; especially with parental consent.