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Newfoundland And Labrador Tan Ban: Province Brings Legislation To Ban Tanning For Teens

06/07/2012 09:00 EDT | Updated 08/07/2012 05:12 EDT
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ST. JOHN'S, N.L. - A bill that puts the heat on tanning bed operators who serve teens in Newfoundland and Labrador has been introduced in the provincial legislature.

Under the bill, people under the age of 19 would be prohibited from using indoor tanning facilities.

An age limit on indoor tanning is already in effect in Nova Scotia, while Quebec and British Columbia introduced similar legislation earlier this year in hopes of curbing increasing rates of melanoma among young people.

The Ontario NDP's health critic has her own private members' bill with the same goal, and a Conservative MP tabled a private member's bill last month in Parliament.

Susan Sullivan, Newfoundland's health minister, said studies have linked increased rates of skin cancer among youths to ultraviolet light exposure.

"It is our government's responsibility to protect public health, as well as ensure that businesses have regulations to guide their business practices," Sullivan said in a statement Thursday.

The Canadian Cancer Society says exposure to indoor tanning before the age of 35 increases the danger of melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, by 75 per cent.

The Canadian Dermatology Association issued a news release applauding the Newfoundland legislation.

"Dermatologists have been campaigning for this same ban across Canada," said Dr. Ian Landells, a St. John's dermatologist and a former president of the association.

The legislation also seeks to regulate the tattoo and body piercing industries by requiring teens under the age of 16 to have the written consent of a parent or guardian before getting work done.

Sullivan described the safeguards as "appropriate and necessary" to protect clients as well as employees.

The legislation would also ban invasive body modification procedures, such as branding or tongue splitting, to people under the age of 19.

Businesses would be required to provide information to customers on health risks, follow provincial health standards and register with the government.

Companies that fail to comply with the legislation could face fines upwards of $5,000.

The government said an inspection program would also be put in place that would give inspectors the right to close a business when serious health risks are identified.