Legislation bans teens from using tanning beds
Nickel Belt MPP France Gélinas said she almost fell off her chair when Premier Dalton McGuinty phoned Sept. 13 to tell her the Liberals will support her private member's bill banning tanning bed use for those under 18.
“He's never called me before,” she said. “I said 'Can I help you?' He told me he was a big supporter of the bill, and he knows that many other people in his caucus are big supporters.”
Right after she finished her phone call with the premier, Gélinas received another call from Minister of Health and Long-Term Care Deb Matthews.
“I didn't fall on the floor,” Gélinas, the NDP's health and long-term care critic, said. “She calls me more often. We went through the nitty gritty of the bill – how fast it could be implemented, and how we would do the rolling out of it.”
McGuinty told the Globe and Mail Sept. 14 the government needs to act on scientific evidence showing tanning beds are harmful to people's health.
“The Canadian Cancer Society tells us young people who use tanning beds are 75 per cent more likely to be diagnosed with melanoma than non users,” he said.
“The World Health Organization has classified tanning beds in its highest cancer-risk category, which puts it in the same category as asbestos and tobacco.”
It seems the third time's a charm for Gélinas. She introduced the tanning bed bill for the first time in 2008, but it was wiped from the docket when the legislature was prorogued.
In 2010, she introduced it once again, but an election was called last fall before it could be considered.
Gélinas introduced the bill for a third time this spring, and it passed first reading. It's due to come up for second reading Oct. 18.
Now that she has the support of the Liberals, Gélinas said she's confident the bill will get through second and third reading, undergo a review by a legislative committee and come into effect before Christmas.
“This is excellent news,” she said, adding that in this instance, the legislature is actually working together to do “some good things for the people of Ontario.”
The Joint Canadian Tanning Association, which represents the indoor tanning industry, has called for tougher regulations, including parental consent for underage users, but not a ban.
“We have been working closely with officials in the Ontario government to bring about a regulatory framework that will protect all consumers, and not simply stop at banning teenagers,” Joint Canadian Tanning Association executive director Steven Gilroy said in a Aug. 14 press release.
“The influx of self-operated and coin-operated sunbeds and dermatology’s use of sunbeds for the treatment of cosmetic skin conditions are the real risks to consumers. The data – when you look at it dispassionately and objectively - show clearly that commercial sunbed usage in Canada is not the real issue.”
Gélinas said her bill has several other aspects beyond banning those under the age of 18 from using tanning beds.
It will also require tanning bed operators to provide information advising those with very fair skin against using the equipment, warnings to be put on tanning beds, advising users that they can cause skin cancer, and a registry to be created of all tanning beds in the province.
Gélinas said she's met many people who have ended up with skin cancer because of their tanning bed use.
In fact, when she launched the bill this past spring, Gélinas was accompanied by Kate Neale, a 22-year-old melanoma survivor from Belleville, Ont.
Against the advice of her parents, as soon as Neale turned 16, she started tanning at the local tanning salon. She started working at the same tanning salon upon graduating from high school.
“Part of her employment contract was she had to maintain a tanned appearance,” Gélinas said.
“Well trying doing this in January in Ontario. The only way to do this is to use the tanning equipment. She was using it. Her employer provided it free of charge for her.”
Neale is now “covered in skin cancer,” she said.
“She's had multiple surgeries, and has big scars on her breasts and stomach,” Gélinas said. “She's going through a really tough time.”