Good news, parents! Starting May 1, youth under age 18 will no longer be allowed to use tanning beds in this province. The new legislation protects young people, who are especially vulnerable to the effects of ultraviolet (UV) radiation, from skin cancer.
The law also calls for tanning bed operators to post signs in their businesses that identify this restriction and that warn of the dangers associated with tanning bed use. Operators will be required to ask for proof of age identification and will not be allowed to promote tanning services to youth under 18. Public health units will enforce the new rules and operators that do not follow the law can be fined.
Why is this so important?
The incidence of melanoma has been rising in Ontario’s youth and young adults. What’s more, the World Health Organization (WHO) has classified tanning beds in its highest risk category, reporting that the risk of skin cancer – particularly melanoma – increases by 75 per cent when tanning beds are used prior to the age of 35.
What you can do
But it’s not just tanning beds that do the harm. Tanning, lying on the beach and regularly participating in activities—running, cycling, swimming, golfing—in full sun (without sun protection) can all do their share of damage. Parents, you can take the lead in protecting your kids, educating them and modeling sun-healthy behaviors.
- Start by stocking up on sun-blocking hats for all ages, as well as good quality broad-spectrum sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 30 or higher.
- Help them apply the sunscreen daily and ensure the kids see you putting it on too.
- Be diligent in reapplying it every two hours or after swimming, drying off or sweating.
- Make it a point to limit family time in the sun between the hours of 11 a.m. and 4 p.m.
- Talk to your teens about peer pressure, the beauty industry and the facts: a tan equals skin damage. Today’s golden glow is tomorrow’s wrinkles/jowls/or worse.
- Set the example and show them the way to be sun smart and skin smart.