TORONTO - Ontario will ban the use of tanning beds by people under the age of 18 to protect them from skin cancer, Premier Dalton McGuinty announced Friday.
"There’s a strong consensus among the scientific community, people who work on the front lines, that we need to do something about young people who are getting access to tanning beds," McGuinty said after touring a cancer clinic at a Toronto hospital.
"So we’ll do that."
The government needs to act on the scientific evidence that shows tanning beds pose a high risk of cancer for young people, added McGuinty.
"The Canadian Cancer Society tells us young people who use tanning beds are 75 per cent more likely to be diagnosed with melanoma than non users," he said.
"The World Health Organization has classified tanning beds in its highest cancer-risk category, which puts it in the same category as asbestos and tobacco."
Instead of introducing their own legislation, the minority Liberal government will instead adopt a private members' bill by New Democrat France Gelinas to restrict the use of tanning beds to adults.
"I’ve only been around 22 years, but I’ve never heard of a premier standing up and saying 'instead of pursing our proposal, we’re going to adopt a private members’ bill, which I think is important in and of itself,'" said McGuinty.
Gelinas was pleased the Liberals were adopting her bill, but said she was also very surprised when she got McGuinty’s call informing her of the decision.
"After I picked myself off the floor, I saw an opportunity to do this and I jumped on it," she said.
"We’re actually working together to do something good. Not only will we protect a whole bunch of young people from developing skin cancer, we also have an opportunity to save money down the road because treatment of melanoma is no picnic."
The Joint Canadian Tanning Association, which represents the indoor tanning industry, has called for provincial regulations to strengthen voluntary guidelines, including parental consent for those under 18, but not an outright ban.
The Cancer Society warns people not to fall for the "myths" that having a tan is healthy, that a tan protects you from the sun or that tanning beds are a safe way to get vitamin D.
"When your skin colour changes, it's damaged and that can lead to premature aging and skin cancer," the society says on its website.
"Getting a tan from a tanning bed doesn't protect you from the sun. It does more harm than the sun."
The city of Oakville recently became the first in Ontario to ban young people from using tanning beds, and other municipalities in the province were considering similar bylaws.
Nova Scotia already bans people under 19 from using tanning beds, while Quebec introduced legislation last May to keep people under 18 from using them. British Columbia plans similar legislation, while Manitoba requires written parental consent before people under 18 can use a tanning bed.
France, Germany and Australia have also banned young people from using tanning beds.