Province to ban young people from tanning beds
Economy, Health Tuesday, March 20, 2012 9:15 AM

VANCOUVER - The Province announced that it will ban commercial tanning bed use by young people under the age of 18 to reduce the chances of developing skin cancer later in life.

"Unfortunately, cancer affects thousands of British Columbian families with one in three people expected to develop some form of cancer - such as skin cancer like melanoma - in their lifetime," said Health Minister Michael de Jong. "After a great deal of consideration of clinical evidence, commissioning a report to provide options and listening to what local governments had to say at the Union of B.C. Municipalities Convention last year, government has decided to restrict access to tanning beds for young people under the age of 18."

Studies have shown that indoor tanning before the age of 35 raises the risk of melanoma by 75 per cent. Melanoma is the most deadly type of skin cancer. In Canada, the incidence rates of melanoma are rising every year. Overall, skin cancer is the most common type of cancer in Canada, and yet it is also one of the most preventable.

In 2012, the BC Cancer Agency estimates that 966 British Columbians will be diagnosed with melanoma and 150 will die of it. One in 69 females and one in 56 males is expected to develop melanoma during their lifetime. One in 413 females and one in 284 males is expected to die of melanoma.

"As a stage four melanoma survivor, I am living proof of the dangers of tanning as a young person," said Kathleen Barnard, founder of Save Your Skin Foundation. "I welcome today's announcement to ban people under 18 from tanning beds as anything we can do to prevent skin cancer later in life is good news for the patients who go through treatment and the hundreds of families that are ripped apart by this potentially deadly disease."

"This is another step forward in cancer prevention," said Canadian Cancer Society, BC and Yukon, CEO Barbara Kaminsky. "This decision to introduce this public policy is both evidence-based and has the support of the majority of British Columbians."

"Skin cancer is a deadly disease and it's important that young people are aware of the risks associated with UV rays," said City of Surrey councillor Mary Martin, chair of the city's Community Health Programs Committee. "We know that tanning bed usage has increased over the past few decades and the new provincewide approach to regulation will ensure consistency among all local governments."

"As the first jurisdiction in B.C. to pass a bylaw banning youth under the age of 18 from using commercial tanning beds, I would like to congratulate the Province on taking up this initiative," said Capital Regional District vice chair mayor Graham Hill. "It is the right thing to do as we try to reduce cancer rates wherever possible."

"Getting a tan might be a popular option among many young people, but research has shown that it can result in potentially deadly skin cancers later in life," said Dr. Andy Coldman, BC Cancer Agency vice-president, population oncology. "Restricting access to tanning beds for youth will help reduce the risk of these cancers later in life, and so I applaud today's decision by the provincial government."

The proposed regulation under the Public Health Act will ban the use of commercial indoor tanning beds by youth under the age of 18, unless they have a medical prescription. It is anticipated to take effect fall 2012.

The announcement follows the release of a report compiled by an Indoor Tanning Working Group that was put together at the request of the Health Minister in fall 2011 to provide recommendations and options.

The working group was established following the introduction of a bylaw that banned minors under the age of 18 from using indoor tanning beds by the Capital Regional District in Victoria, as well as a subsequent number of requests for a provincewide ban.

The report included the recommendation of implementing a ban for youth under the age of 18 years from using commercial indoor tanning equipment without a medical prescription.

The report is available online at:

Quick Facts:

  • Approximately one in three British Columbians will develop some form of cancer in their lifetime.
  • Estimated new cancer diagnoses in British Columbia for 2012: 23,933
  • Estimated new cancer diagnoses for 2025: 34,056.

Despite these statistics, which are a result of our increasing and aging population and are being seen worldwide, B.C. has some of the most favourable outcomes in North America.

  • According to 2010 estimates in the Canadian Cancer Society's Canadian Cancer Statistics report, "mortality rates for all cancers combined are lowest in B.C."
  • In 2004, the total economic burden of skin cancer in Canada was estimated to be $532 million - the majority being attributable to melanoma (83.4 per cent), and the balance distributed between basal cell carcinoma (9.1 per cent) and squamous cell carcinoma (7.5 per cent).
  • Of the $532 million, $66 million (12.4 per cent) is associated with direct costs and $466 million (87.6 per cent) with indirect costs.
    • Direct costs include primary care, day surgery and hospital care.
    • Indirect costs include lost productive time from mortality and morbidity.

For More information:

On melanoma and its causes, treatment and symptoms, visit:

Canadian Cancer Statistics 2011 report from the Canadian Cancer Society:

B.C.’s Indoor Tanning Working Group report:

Media contact:

Ryan Jabs
Media Relations Manager
Minister of Health
250 952-1887

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