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Information: Health Warning Messages on Tanning Beds

February 2013

News Release: Harper Government Introduces Stronger Health Warnings on Tanning Beds

The Minister of Health announced proposed changes to the Radiation Emitting Devices Regulations (RED) that would strengthen the labelling requirements and the health warning messages for tanning equipment.

The proposed changes to the RED regulations would require a health warning label be attached to all ultraviolet emitting tanning equipment that displays the following messages: “Not recommended for use by those under 18 years of age” and “Tanning Equipment Can Cause Cancer”, as well as a bulleted list of other health risks associated with tanning.

Danger - Tanning Equipment Can Cause Cancer

The proposed labels would replace current tanning equipment warning labels, which display the statement “Ultraviolet radiation”

The World Health Organization reclassified tanning beds as cancer-causing, stating that the risk of developing skin melanoma increases by 75% when use of tanning beds starts before the age of 35. The risks are cumulative, meaning there is an escalating risk with total hours, sessions or years of tanning equipment use. Age of first use is also a factor: both an increased risk of developing melanoma and early onset of the disease have been linked with age at first use of tanning beds.

Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer in Canada, and melanoma is its deadliest form. While mortality rates have remained consistent in Canada, killing one in five diagnosed, incidence of melanoma has increased threefold between 1972 and 2006.

The proposed changes would align Health Canada’s labelling requirements for tanning beds with emerging Provincial and Territorial regulations regarding the usage of tanning equipment.

Eight of the 13 provinces/territories in the country currently either regulate, or have expressed an intention to regulate, access to tanning equipment by minors and oversight of commercial tanning facilities:

  • In May 2011 Nova Scotia's Tanning Beds Act came into effect, making it illegal to provide access to tanning equipment to anyone under age 19.
  • Manitoba introduced informed parental consent requirements for those under 18, which came into force on June 15, 2012.
  • British Columbia introduced new regulations banning minors (under 18) from accessing tanning beds in tanning facilities effective October 15, 2012.
  • Most recently, Quebec banned the use of tanning beds for those under 18, which came into effect February 11, 2013.
  • Other provinces and territories, including Ontario, Newfoundland and Labrador, Prince Edward Island, and the Northwest Territories have either passed legislation that has yet to come into force or announced their intent to regulate the use of tanning equipment.

Health Canada advises Canadians that there is no such thing as a safe or healthy tan, whether under the sun or in a tanning bed.

The most up-to-date scientific evidence shows that exposure to ultraviolet A and B radiation can cause sunburn, damage to your eyes and other health effects, including an increased risk of skin cancer.

Health Canada advises Canadians to take steps to avoid overexposure to ultraviolet radiation.

For more information please visit Tanning and its Effects on Your Health.