Laying down the tanning (by)law

Teens banned from tanning – now what?

Greater Victoria became the first region in Canada last week to ban minors from using commercial tanning beds – and its a law the Vancouver Island Health Authority plans to enforce.

Salon operators in the Capital Regional District could soon face fines of $250 to $2,000 for tanning teens under 18.

“What we’ll be looking at is a complaint-driven (enforcement) process,” said VIHA chief medical health officer Dr. Richard Stanwick, who proposed the restriction seven months ago, following recommendations from the World Health Organization.

WHO does not support the use of tanning beds for people under the age of 18, attributing UVA radiation to the development of skin cancer, cataracts, and other eye conditions, as well as the suppression of the immune system.

Indoor tanning beds generate about five times the amount of UVA radiation produced by the sun and are not a safe means of producing vitamin D, Heath Canada also warns.

Before the CRD passed the bylaw by a margin of 18-1, Anne Thomas, VIHA’s regional manager for health protection, said methods used to regulate cigarette sales could be applied to tanning.

“We have these mystery tobacco shoppers and these same individuals could be used, if required, to do the same for the tanning industry,” Stanwick confirmed.

Fines will only be levied after salons have had a chance to be educated about the new bylaw.

At the Jan. 12 meeting, tanning salon operators spoke against the bylaw, saying a ban is the wrong way to ensure safety.

“People keep asking us, why we care so much, because youth make up such a small percentage of our business,” said Angie Woodhead, co-owner of Cabana Tan in Victoria. “Well, we care because we want to make this as safe as possible for all of our customers.”

Woodhead voluntarily follows guidelines. parental consent is required for underaged clients.

Like many in the industry, Woodhead would like to see a mandate to ensure all bed operators are trained and that every business purchases professional liability insurance.

Stanwick agrees additional regulations need consideration.