The Canadian Cancer Society reacts to the publication of an INSPQ advisory: One step closer to legislation governing the artificial tanning industry

31 October 2011

Montreal -

The Canadian Cancer Society (CCS) applauds this morning’s publication of an advisory issued by Institut national de santé publique du Québec (INSPQ), which includes an analysis of regulatory measures concerning the use of artificial tanning devices by youths aged under 18.

Following a complete review of scientific data and existing measures, the expert committee at INSPQ has advised the government to implement a regulatory framework for the artificial tanning industry. Many health-related organizations have been calling for such a regulatory framework for a long time. Some of these organizations, including the CCS and the Association des dermatologues du Québec, have also actively taken part in discussions that led to the INSPQ advisory.

“Skin cancer is the most widespread form of cancer in Quebec. Currently, there is no legislation that regulates the artificial tanning industry. That makes no sense!” states André Beaulieu, Interim Director of Public Affairs at the Canadian Cancer Society – Quebec Division. “We regularly speak with young women who have survived melanoma. These are cancer cases that could have been prevented if legislation and regulations had been in place for these young women. The INSPQ advisory illustrates the relevance and need for prompt political action in order to prevent future cases of skin cancer.”

On the basis of the findings contained in this important advisory, the CCS reasserts its position and encourages the government of Quebec to:

  1. Prohibit the sale of artificial tanning services to youths aged under 18 years. This measure is already in effect in several jurisdictions: Australia, France, Germany, Portugal, Wales, Scotland, Belgium, Spain, England, Nova Scotia, and the Capital Regional District of Victoria in British Columbia.
  2. Establish a registry of businesses in Quebec that offer artificial tanning services. There are over 1,000 artificial tanning businesses in the province, including devices operated in unusual venues such as travel agencies, video clubs, and convenience stores.
  3. Limit the marketing practices employed by tanning salons by prohibiting them from targeting youths: discount coupons inserted in school agendas, prom-night promotions, and similar schemes.

Since the above measures would lead to a reduction in the incidence of skin cancer, the CCS has asked the public to support this initiative by signing a petition (online at https://www.assnat.qc.ca/fr/exprimez-votre-opinion/petition/Petition-1943/index.html).

“Nearly 57,000 people in Quebec have already signed the CCS petition (in print or online). Surveys reveal 89% of people in Quebec agree that access to tanning salons should be prohibited for minors. Among youths aged 15 to 29 in Quebec, 3 out of 4 favour such a measure,” says André Beaulieu. The petition will be submitted on a progressive basis throughout November to the National Assembly by over 30 MNAs from all political parties.

“Public health experts, dermatologists, professionals who deal with cancer, and the general public all speak with one voice and call for legislation to regulate the artificial tanning industry. The health minister, Dr Yves Bolduc, now has all the arguments he needs to act rapidly – and prompt action is what we expect,” adds André Beaulieu.

Skin cancer: some shattering facts

  • The most common cancer in Canada: nearly 80,000 new cases in 2011.
  • Rapid upswing: since 1990, the number of cases of melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, has more than doubled in Canada.
  • 1 skin cancer diagnosis every 7 minutes; 1 death every 7 hours.

Artificial tanning = beauty? Appearances are deceptive

  • Exposure to artificial tanning before the age of 35 raises the risk of contracting melanoma by 75%.
  • 76% of melanoma cases among artificial-tanning fans aged 18 to 29 are due to the use of tanning beds.
  • Tanning-bed UV radiation is 5 to 15 times stronger than the midday sun.
  • Tanning beds are categorized among the highest cancer risks, on the same level as smoking or exposure to asbestos.

Marketing for tanning salons mainly targets young women

  • Youths frequent tanning salons because they believe artificial tanning makes them feel and look good. The artificial tanning industry relies heavily on the pursuit of beauty and immediate results: 70% tanning bed users are women, mainly aged 16 to 29.
  • About 160,000 young women in Quebec, aged 15 to 29, used tanning salons on average 11 times in the past year.

The Canadian Cancer Society is a national community-based organization of volunteers whose mission is the eradication of cancer and the enhancement of the quality of life of people living with cancer. When you want to know more about cancer, visit our website www.cancer.ca or call our toll-free, bilingual Cancer Information Service at 1 888 939-3333.

For more information, please contact:

André Beaulieu

Spokesperson and Senior Advisor, Public Relations

Canadian Cancer Society

Quebec Division

Phone: (514) 393-3444