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12/15/2011 06:50 EST | Updated 12/15/2011 06:52 EST

Tanning Bed Ban: MP Urges Ban For Teens

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More Canadian teens could be saying goodbye to their tanning beds.

Conservative MP James Bezan, based in Manitoba, has proposed a member's bill that would restrict access to tanning beds to those over the age of 18 and require the devices to carry warning labels listing risks associated with their use. The bill would also require posting warning signs wherever tanning equipment is provided.

There are currently bans on the use of tanning beds by anyone under the age of 19 in Nova Scotia and for youth under the age of 18 in Victoria.

Dr. Susan Poelman, a dermatologist based in Calgary, says it's time for the government to step in, especially since Canada lags behind other countries that have passed legislation for tanning beds, including France, Germany, England, Australia and Brazil.

"I think it's critical that people are aware that tanning beds pose a risk to their health," Poelman says.

Poelman, who works directly with patients and melanoma -- a type of skin cancer -- says studies show that anyone using tanning equipment before the age of 35 increases their risk of cancer by 75 per cent.

Other concerned parties, however, say age shouldn't be the target for regulation. Steven Gilroy, executive director of the Joint Canadian Tanning Association, says focusing on controlled equipment, along with certified and trained operators, is what will reduce cancer risks.

His organization believes in regulating by "skin typing" -- for example, ensuring those with the fairest skin type, known as skin type I, are aware they must limit their exposure, thanks to a qualified operator.

Gilroy also says a ban will likely not stop minors from tanning, as they could try to buy "underground" equipment online. "What could happen is you take [users] from controlled environments and put them in an uncontrolled one," he says.

But Poelman says this is not why we need legislation in place.

"Tanning beds, according to the World Health Organization are akin to tobacco," she says. "The way we think about tobacco is the way we should be thinking about tanning beds -- there is no question, tanning beds cause cancers."

The Canadian Cancer Society expects 5,500 Canadians to be diagnosed with melanoma skin cancer this year, and says about 950 will die from the disease.

Christine Janus, executive director of the Canadian Skin Patient Alliance (CSPA), an organization that provides support for those with skin conditions, says Canadians who are travelling this season must protect themselves.

A recent survey conducted by Leger Marketing on behalf of the CSPA found that while 91 per cent of all travellers to warm or sunny destinations say sun protection is important while vacationing, most don’t do anything about it.

Here are Janus's tips for Canadians to consider while travelling to hotter destinations:

Photo gallery How To Protect Your Skin From The Sun See Gallery

With files from the Canadian Press