New legislation on artificial tanning: The Canadian Cancer Society highlights its speedy implementation

11 February 2013

Montreal, QC -

Today, the Act to prevent skin cancer caused by artificial tanning, which the Canadian Cancer Society (CCS) – Quebec Division fought tooth and nail for, comes into force. The CCS is extremely proud of this major progress which will contribute to preventing skin cancer, the most widespread cancer in Quebec. In addition, the CCS is glad to have requested a review every five years, which will help strengthen the Act.

“This legislation, which prohibits the sale of artificial tanning services to those under 18 years of age, is a great victory for public health,” says Suzanne Dubois, Executive Director of the CCS – Quebec Division. “The Canadian Cancer Society strongly believes in working to stop preventable cancers even before they occur. In this respect, the legislation is a clear message from the government to the whole population about the risk and danger of artificial tanning.”

A cohort of young people saved

The government passed the bill in June 2012, but had a whole year to implement it. The CCS is delighted that the Quebec Ministry of Health and Social Services (MSSS) has opted for a speedy enforcement and implementation of the legislation (posters, warnings, and inspections). “Spring marks the robust return of tanning salons’ misleading advertisements and promotions. For the first time, a cohort of adolescents will not be recruited by these businesses ahead of prom night and potentially fatal skin cancer can be prevented in the medium and long term,” says Mélanie Champagne, Manager of Public Issues at the CCS.

The key elements of the legislation, which will come into force on February 11:

  • Prohibition of the sale and offer of tanning services to those under 18 years of age, punishable by fines ($500 to $15,000 for the salon operator; maximum of $100 for the minor).
  • Prohibition of advertising targeting minors.
  • Prohibition of advertising that is false, misleading, or liable to create an erroneous impression of the effects or dangers of artificial tanning on health (e.g., letting users believe that tanning beds are safe). The prohibition applies to the name under which a salon is operated.
  • Warnings on the harmful effects of artificial tanning and a clear mention of the ban on tanning services for minors in any advertising promoting tanning.
  • Mandatory declaration of any sale of tanning services in the Quebec enterprise register.
  • Mechanism for inspection by the Ministry of Health and Social Services (MSSS). A municipality can appoint its own team of inspectors.

An unprecedented mobilization

Even if the CCS led the mobilization efforts, it is also because of a strong collaborative spirit that this campaign was successful. The Association des Dermatologistes du Québec and the Institut national de santé publique du Québec brought their medical and scientific expertise to the debate. The CCS, for its part, gathered the signatures of 60,000 Quebecers on a petition demanding the regulation of the tanning industry, which was submitted to the National Assembly by 35 MNAs. The CCS also provided to the Committee on Health and Social Services letters of support from 65 groups representing more than 500 organizations working in the youth, women, and health sectors.

For as long as tanning is associated with beauty and health, a part of the population, particularly young women, will unfortunately continue getting an artificial tan. This is why the CCS’s prevention service is continuing its work and rolling out a vast awareness campaign for 15-24 year olds this spring called the Hidden Face of Tanning. Throughout the campaign, the CCS will use all its resources to change perceptions regarding tanning and promote the new legislation among young people.

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 59% 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 protection required, year-round).

For 75 years, the Canadian Cancer Society has been with Canadians in the fight for life. All these years, we have been relentless in our commitment to prevent cancer, fund research, and support Canadians touched by cancer. From this foundation, we will work with Canadians to change cancer forever so fewer Canadians are diagnosed with the disease and more survive. To know more about cancer, visit our website at cancer.ca or call our Cancer Information Service at 1 888 939-3333.

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