Tanning bed rules coming for youth

Okotoks: Spray tans offer popular alternative

By: Roxanne Blackwell

  |  Posted: Wednesday, Jun 11, 2014 12:33 pm

The provincial government is planning to bring forward new rules to ban anyone under the age of 18 from using tanning beds
The provincial government is planning to bring forward new rules to ban anyone under the age of 18 from using tanning beds
Wheel File Photo

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Youths in Alberta looking for a bit of extra colour may soon be out of luck as the provincial government is working on legislature that could see anyone under 18 banned from tanning beds.

Currently Alberta and Saskatchewan are the only provinces that do not currently regulate the use of tanning beds. A report released from the Canadian Cancer Society last month stated that people who start using tanning beds before the age of 35 increase their risk of skin cancer melanoma by 59 per cent. In addition they also estimate 95 Albertans will die from melanoma this year.

Rebecca McIntyre, 18, said she tans about once a week, and was specifically trying to get some colour before her Foothills Composite graduation.

“If I’m going on vacation, or I want to get rid of tan lines I’ll go tanning for a bit just to get that nice glow,” she said.

McIntyre said tanning was a regular part of her routine before her graduation last month, as well as many of her friends. McIntyre said she’s aware of the health concerns, but doesn’t often worry about them.

“I don’t think that I do it enough to be concerned. But maybe if I were to do it a lot more then that would concerning,” she said. “If you abuse it then I can see where that is a problem but if you’re just doing it occasionally for certain occasions then I don’t think it’s a big deal.”

Despite that, McIntyre said if the government feels a ban for those under 18 is a good idea then she trusts their judgment.

“I know some people would be confused by it, but I mean if (the Province is) bringing in a ban then it must be of some concern, it is probably not very good for you.”

Mat Rockey, president of national tanning chain Fabutan, which has one location in Okotoks, said he’s in support of a ban for Albertans under 18, and has even met with the health minister to work together on the issue.

“People under the age of 18 have been marketed to to stay out of the sun or protect themselves. People under 18 on make up 1.5 per cent of our customers, so it’s not a big part of our business,” he said.

Fabutan has required parental consent for anyone under 18 since the early 90s even though they aren’t legally required to. Rockey said they believe legislature needs to be introduced not just to protect youth, but also to close the loopholes and regulate the industry as a whole. “It should be about avoiding over exposure. We focus on tanning, not burning. The risks come from over exposing your body and we want to make sure the message is correct,” he said.

Rockey would also like to introduce a ban on self-serve tanning, where machines are coin operated, and instead recommends that all tanning beds be operated by certified individuals.

“You’re not going to help anything by bringing in a ban for under 18 if that 17-year-old girl can just go to a tanning bed and plug it full of toonies,” he said.

Alternatively, Rockey said UV-free spray tanning has become more popular for youths, and Fabutan currently offers a discount on spray tanning for upcoming high school graduates.

Christa Dunham operates a mobile spray tanning business, Organic Tan, around the foothills and out of her High River home.

Dunham said youths have become increasingly interested in spray tanning.

“They want to look good, and a tan is considered part of that, but most of them are just looking for a one time thing,” she said. “I see a lot of them who say ‘my parents won’t me tan’ so they come to me for that instant natural colour.”


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