05/06/2014 08:05 EDT | Updated 07/06/2014 05:59 EDT

Opposition NDP calls for Saskatchewan to ban youths from using tanning beds

REGINA - The Opposition NDP is joining the chorus of organizations calling on the Saskatchewan government to ban tanning beds for people under the age of 18.

New Democrat health critic Danielle Chartier says evidence shows that exposure to tanning beds at a young age greatly increases the risk for developing skin cancer.

Chartier says young people deserve protection and notes they can't buy cigarettes or alcohol.

The Canadian Cancer Society, the Saskatchewan Medical Association, the Canadian Medical Association and the World Health Organization all support a ban on youth tanning.

But Health Minister Dustin Duncan says he doesn't see it the same way as smoking and it's up to individuals to decide if they want to tan or not.

Duncan says the province might consider requiring young people to get parental permission to tan, but he's concerned that a ban on youth tanning could lead to calls for a ban on adult tanning.

"And I think that gets into a fairly slippery slope when it comes to government making determinations for what activities people can partake in," he said.

Chartier disagreed.

"That is honestly one of the most ridiculous arguments that I have heard from this minister. He's in charge. There is no slippery slope," she said.

Saskatchewan, Alberta and Manitoba are the only provinces that don't ban youths from using tanning beds.

Manitoba allows youths to use tanning beds if they bring a note from their parents.

Alberta's health minister said in March that the province is preparing tanning equipment legislation to be introduced this year, but it is not clear if the bill will ban people under 18 from using tanning beds.

All the other provinces ban young people from using indoor tanning equipment.