Canadian Cancer Society applauds government decision to protect youth from dangers of indoor tanning

30 March 2015

Regina -

REGINA - Today’s announcement that the Government will soon ban youth from indoor tanning is a crucial
cancer-prevention measure, although long overdue, says the Canadian Cancer Society. The Society has
been advocating for such a ban for more than 5 years and Saskatchewan is the last province in Canada to
ban youth under 18 from indoor tanning. Nine provinces have either adopted or introduced legislation to
ban youth from indoor tanning; the most recent was the Alberta government last week. “The rising
incidence of melanoma is an alarming trend, especially as it is one of the most common cancers among
young women. The government’s new policy sends a strong message that indoor tanning is dangerous
and should be avoided at all cost,” says Donna Ziegler, Director of Cancer Control for the Canadian Cancer

Society in Saskatchewan.

 

Skin cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in the province and yet it is almost entirely
preventable. Every year about 3,000 people in SK are diagnosed with non-melanoma skin cancer and 135

are diagnosed with melanoma.

 

Tanning salons not complying with guidelines

 

The Society says the legislation comes not a moment too soon. A recent independent audit of 42 tanning
facilities in Regina and Saskatoon found that more than half (55%) are allowing underage youth to tan,
despite provincial and federal voluntary guidelines recommending against it. The Canadian Cancer Society
commissioned the audit to determine whether tanning facilities were allowing underage people to tan,
something federal and provincial guidelines recommend against. The consultants recruited underage (1517
year old) research assistants to present themselves as ‘first-time tanners” while conducting the audit.

Key Findings:

  • Most (55%) tanning facilities did not ask research assistants their age, and would have allowed them to tan, despite being under age.
  • 69% did not ask for a history of tanning behavior (sunburns, skin infections, rashes), despite recommendations to do so by both Health Canada and the provincial government.
  • The majority (79%) of tanning facilities did not provide any information and/or warnings about the possible risk of skin cancer.
  • 40% did not post warning labels on each piece of equipment, as recommended by the Government of Saskatchewan.

“This audit clearly demonstrates that self-regulation by the tanning industry is not working, and that
regulation is necessary to protect the health of our youth by banning anyone under 18 from using
indoor tanning equipment.”

The Society also urges the provincial government to:

  • Prohibit the marketing of indoor tanning targeting youth, as 4 other provinces have adopted or introduced (Alberta, Ontario, Quebec and New Brunswick).
  • Develop a registry of indoor tanning equipment to track usage and help enforce regulation.
  • Develop regulations that require training of staff operating tanning equipment to help them better identify people whose skin type puts them at greater risk of skin cancer.

A public opinion poll last year by Ipsos Reid found that an overwhelming majority (83%) of
Saskatchewan residents supports regulations to ban youth from indoor tanning, and 78% believe the
government should regulate the tanning industry.

More about the audit:

The audit was conducted in late 2014 in Saskatoon and Regina on behalf of the Canadian Cancer Society
in Saskatchewan. Fast Consulting recruited and trained research assistants under the age of 18 to visit
tanning facilities and act as potential first-time customers. To prevent any bias in the results, the
research assistants were not told the study was being done for the Cancer Society, only that they were
‘mystery shoppers.” The researchers were paired so they did not have to visit tanning facilities alone.
They brought completed assessments back to Fast Consulting at the end of each ‘mystery shopping’
session, which might include one or several tanning facilities visits. More details about the undercover
audit available at www.cancer.ca

Media contact:
Donna Pasiechnik
Manager, Media & Government Relations
306-790-9871

 

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.