The legislation, which was approved on Wednesday, restricts youth under 18, who are especially vulnerable to the harmful effects of ultraviolet (UV) radiation, from using tanning beds. The act also prohibits marketing tanning services to youth, requires tanning bed operators to request identification from anyone who appears under 25, and sets fines for operators who fail to comply.
The new rules will be enforced by public health units and the government says it will consult widely in the coming months on the development of regulations to support the legislation.
The act includes self-tanning restrictions that prohibit the use of tanning beds that do not require the presence of an attendant.
The passing of the bill marks the culmination of years of work by Gélinas, the NDP's critic for Health and Long-Term Care.
“For more than five years, health-care advocates, youth, public health units, physicians, and cancer survivors have worked alongside me and other MPPs to urge the Liberal government to prevent youth from accessing dangerous tanning beds,” Gelinas said in a release. “Today, we have finally achieved this important step for preventing skin cancer.
“Today is a day for celebration, but it is disheartening that it took a scandal like the gas plants to motivate this government to do something for the health of young people in our province.”
Gélinas was referring to a Liberal government decision in the 2011 election to cancel contracts contracts to build gas plants in Mississauga in an attempt to keep the seat. Reports surfaced this week the cancellation cost Ontario taxpayers as much as $1 billion.
After the story broke, internal staff emails argued the passage of Gelinas' tanning bed bill would “make a fabulous headline in Saturday papers" for an otherwise scandal-plagued government.
The emails were made public in August.
Canadian Cancer Society volunteers and staff are celebrating the passing of the new legislation, as well.
"I'm happy that we finally have legislation that will protect youth from skin cancer," said Kate Neale, 23, a melanoma cancer survivor and society volunteer.
The Belleville native worked at a tanning salon and used indoor tanning extensively as a young teen. She was in the Legislature Wednesday to watch the bill be approved, she said in a press release.
"When I was diagnosed with melanoma, I wanted to stop every young person from indoor tanning,” Neale said.
“I joined the Canadian Cancer Society and the #tanbedban movement to advocate for legislation banning indoor tanning for youth because it was my hope to make a difference. That hope has become reality."
The World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer reports that the risk of skin cancer — particularly melanoma — increases by 75 per cent when tanning beds are used by anyone younger than age 35. The incidence of melanoma in Ontario has been rising in youth and young adults (ages 15-34), especially females aged 25 to 34.
The Canadian Cancer Society said it has been placing the issue of indoor tanning and youth on the political agenda since 2005. That year, volunteers met with MPPs at Queen's Park to inform them about the dangers associated with indoor tanning, particularly for youth, and to push for provincial indoor tanning legislation in Ontario.
"Today a clear message has been sent that indoor tanning is not safe and we know that it causes skin cancer,” said Martin Kabat, CEO, Canadian Cancer Society's Ontario division.
“For more than seven years, we've mobilized volunteers, donors and staff to fight for a ban on indoor tanning for youth in Ontario. We applaud all three political parties who have worked together to pass this historic provincial legislation."