By Doreen Dawang
Tanning beds could go the way of cigarette packaging, as Health Canada wants to stick stricter warning labels on tanning beds.
The proposed changes will make it mandatory for all tanning beds to display a health warning decal for people under the age of 18 and warning about the risk of skin cancer.
Senior manager of public issues at the Canadian Cancer Society Joanna Di Nardo told Humber News her team is pleased with this positive first step.
“I think it will help to some extent,” Di Nardo said. “People will clearly see the impact of using tanning beds having those warnings displayed.”
Research from the Canadian Cancer Society has found tanning beds can expose a user to five times more ultraviolet radiation than sun exposure during an afternoon summer day.
Di Nardo said the Canadian Cancer Society has done research and results showed young people often start using indoor tanning equipment because of a parent who does.
“In this instance, the parent would see the warning that their [child] is under 18, and they shouldn’t access tanning equipment,” Di Nardo said. “That would likely decease their own behaviour and have them talk to their kids about tanning.”
Executive director of the Joint Canadian Tanning Association Steven Gilroy said he agrees with warning people about over-exposure in tanning beds, but told Humber News the Canadian government has taken it too far.
“This is about who controls the equipment,” he said. “That’s what reduces risks.”
Gilroy recommends people find a professional tanning salon that is certified to determine a person’s skin type. Skin types range from one to six, one being the lightest skin colour and the most prone to sunburns.
“What we want to do is everything in moderation,” he said. “This is the key to doing it responsibly.”
Sheridan College business student Ashley Irving said she was 17 when she started using tanning beds, but has stopped completely.
“The reason why I stopped is because it made my skin irritated,” she said.
Irving, 24, said her sensitive skin made her more careful of the repercussions of using tanning equipment. Irving said she is always seeking alternatives.
Di Nardo said tanning creams and sprays are great ways to achieve the sun-kissed look without damaging your skin. She said this new initiative will hopefully instill good self-esteem in young people.
“Enjoy the skin you’re in, that’s really what it’s about,” Di Nardo said.