Health and Social Services Committee report in favour of the prohibition of artificial tanning for minors

21 March 2012

Montreal, QC -

The Canadian Cancer Society (CCS) wants a law this spring

The Committee on Health and Social Services made public yesterday its report on the study of the CCS’s petition on artificial tanning. The Canadian Cancer Society is pleased that the Committee is in favour of the prohibition of the sale of tanning services to youth and of a register of all businesses that provide artificial tanning services. The Committee also recognizes the health risks posed by tanning beds and their carcinogenic effects, and highlights the many gaps in terms of regulating this industry.

It is to save lives that the CCS and the dermatologists of the Institut national de santé publique (INSPQ) testified last month in front of the Committee. At the time, the CCS submitted signatures from 60,000 people in Quebec and letters of support from 65 groups representing more than 500 organizations.

Skin cancer is the most common cancer in Quebec (more than 22,000 cases per year). Currently, no legislation regulates the tanning salon industry, which sells a carcinogenic service. More than 1,000 tanning salons are active in Quebec and many are found in unusual places: travel agencies, video clubs, convenience stores, or laundromats.

“Not only do a vast majority of people in Quebec want a law, but they think that urgent action needs to be taken now[1]”, says Mélanie Champagne, Policy Analyst at the CCS – Quebec Division. “Yesterday, British Columbia became the latest jurisdiction to ban teenagers from tanning beds – the law will be in force this Fall. Not to legislate is no longer conceivable and would be increasingly disastrous from the point of view of public health.”

Moreover, spring marks the return of misleading advertisements and promotions by artificial tanning salons through Publisac flyer distribution bags, secondary school newspapers, and graduation albums as well as the distribution of discount coupons and the offer of unlimited tanning specials at low prices.

“Spring is here, beautiful days are back, and your prom night is coming. Are you pale and tired of winter? Why not get a tan to look beautiful and healthy!” That is the type of marketing message that the artificial tanning industry will hammer into young people in Quebec over the next few days. The CCS has had enough and wants immediate action from the government to regulate the tanning industry in Quebec”, Ms. Champagne adds.

The regular use of tanning equipment is bad at any age. But, because three quarters of melanoma cases among artificial tanning enthusiasts between the ages of 18-29 can be attributed to the use of tanning beds and because exposure to artificial tanning before the age of 35 years increases the risk of developing a melanoma by 75%, the signatories of the petition, the CCS, and its allies once again urge the government:

1. To prohibit the sale of artificial tanning services to youth under the age of 18

2. To set up a Quebec register of all businesses that provide artificial tanning services

3. To restrict the marketing practices of tanning salons by prohibiting misleading advertising and the targeting of young people.

“The consensus is there: a law on artificial tanning is a necessity. The CCS urges the government of Mr. Charest to legislate before the summer”, concludes Jean-Daniel Hamelin, Director of Public Affairs at the CCS.


Facts on artificial tanning

  • Rays from a tanning bed are 5 to 15 times stronger than the midday sun.
  • More than 250,000 young people (16%) in Quebec between the ages of 15 and 29 use artificial tanning 11 times a year on average — 160,000 women (22%) against 90,000 men (11.5%).
  • The use of tanning beds among young girls seems to evolve with age because it more than doubles between 14 and 15 years (going from 7% to 15%) and doubles again at 17 years (increasing to 35%).
  • More than a quarter of artificial tanning fans are affected by tanorexia (tanning addiction) and become obsessed with tanning.
  • The treatment of skin cancers is not “benign” and simple: mutilating surgeries, treatments, pain, convalescence, and important habit changes in relation to the sun (SPF 60 required every day, 12 months a year).

[1] Léger Marketing Omnibus Survey, March 16, 2012.

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 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