Passage of Bill 74 to prevent skin cancers caused by artificial tanning
05 June 2012
A memorable day for health according to the Canadian Cancer Society
It’s with great pleasure that the Canadian Cancer Society (CCS) – Quebec Division welcomes the passage of Bill 74 that will from now on prohibit the sale of tanning services to young people under 18 years of age. The CCS would like to congratulate and thank Health Minister Dr Yves Bolduc for this important step and all of Quebec’s elected leaders who voted unanimously for this new legislation.
“Bill 74 is a great victory for public health. We forget too often to work ahead to stop cancers that can be prevented. The measures announced this morning will certainly contribute to reducing the rising incidence of skin cancer,” says Suzanne Dubois, Executive Director of the Canadian Cancer Society – Quebec Division.
With a legislation that is more thorough than Nova Scotia and British Columbia’s, Quebec is showing real leadership on skin cancers. The provisions of this law include:
- The prohibition of the sale or offer of tanning services to young people under 18 years of age, punishable by fines (from $500 to $15,000 for running the salon and a maximum of $100 for the minor who uses the service).
- The prohibition of any advertising, direct or indirect or false or misleading (letting them believe, for instance, that tanning beds are harmless), to promote artificial tanning among minors. This also applies to the name of the salon.
- The obligation to label all advertisements promoting tanning with a warning about the harmful effects of artificial tanning and a clear mention of its prohibition for minors. Otherwise, the merchant and the media running the advertisement are liable to a fine between $500 and $15,000.
- The mandatory declaration of any activity related to the sale of tanning services to the Enterprise Registrar.
- The setting up of business inspection mechanisms by the Ministère de la Santé (MSSS) and the possibility of allowing a municipality that wishes to do so to constitute its own team of inspectors.
- An obligation to review the law every five years.
More than 1,000 tanning salons are currently active in Quebec and many are found in unusual places: travel agencies, video clubs, convenience stores, or laundromats. The legislation provides for the display of notices and warnings indicating the prohibition of access to minors on the door of each business. The CCS is also happy that the MSSS has planned an awareness and information campaign on the dangers of artificial tanning and the provisions of this law.
During the past year, the CCS collected 60,000 signatures in Quebec to show the government the popular consent to legislation to protect young people from the harmful effects of artificial UV rays. The CCS also received the support of 65 organizations representing more than 600 groups. “It was work on the ground that was done in the four corners of the province, which managed to bring people together. We are really proud that our mobilization campaign was heard by elected leaders,” says Mélanie Champagne, Coordinator, Public Issues, CCS – Quebec Division.
All the same, the CCS would have liked the bill to tackle, as in the case of smoking, “lifestyle” advertisements. “The industry too often promotes advertisements that show tanning as something that’s necessary to look good, sexy, and happy. Young people are extremely vulnerable,” says Ms. Champagne. A paid permit should also be required for businesses offering tanning services as is the case for the sale of alcohol or tobacco. The CCS finally recommends, as a future step, to introduce a 10% tax on the purchase of a tanning session, like in the United States.
A great victory for people personally affected…
“When I started going to the tanning salon at 15, people didn’t talk about any harmful effects, and never about cancer. As a teenager, nobody ever stopped me from entering a tanning salon. Bill 74 is going to stop young people from developing a cancer unwittingly and it’s wonderful,” says 32-year-old Geneviève Phénix, who survived two melanomas.
“In telling my story, I thought that if my face, my scars, and my situation touched even a single teenager, the mission would be accomplished. With the legislation and the awareness campaign, we are going to reach all of Quebec’s youths and the whole population,” says 31-year-old Rachelle Pitre, who survived multiple skin cancers.
“The Bill 74 vote literally made me hold my breath, moved me tremendously, and gave me another occasion to say a big thank you to the Canadian Cancer Society for all that it has done,” Yvon Roy, a father of four who survived a melanoma.
“Thank you on behalf of my daughters who will soon grow up and be protected by a law that was necessary,” says 42-year-old Annie Gloutney, who has a recurrence of melanoma.
Facts on artificial tanning
- Skin cancer is the most common cancer in Quebec (from 22,000 to 35,000 cases per year according to sources).
- Tanning bed rays are 5 to 15 times stronger than the midday sun.
- The risk of developing a melanoma increases by 75% for people who use tanning beds before the age of 35.
- Nearly 250,000, or 16%, of young Quebecers aged between 15 and 29 years use artificial tanning 11 times a year on average — 160,000 women (22%) against 90,000 men (11.5%).
- Skin cancer treatment is not “benign” and simple: it involves scarring surgery, various treatments, pain, convalescence, and major changes in sun-exposure habits (SPF 60 daily required protection, year-round).
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.