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Wednesday, 11 March 2015 11:51

Sask. to become only province without tanning bed legislation

Written by  Matthew Liebenberg
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The proposed introduction of a bill in Alberta to regulate tanning beds will mean Saskatchewan will become the only province with no legislation to control youth access to tanning equipment.

Earlier this week a report by John Cotter of Canadian Press indicated that a bill will be tabled during the Alberta legislature’s spring sitting, which started  March 10.
The Alberta government has been considering such legislation for a while and officials have been working on the details of the bill during 2014.
According to the report the details of the bill will only be available when it is introduced during the spring session, but an Alberta Health spokesperson indicated the legislation will focus on the protection of youth under the age of 18.
According to the Canadian Cancer Society, the most common cancer in the country is skin cancer. Melanoma, the more serious type of skin cancer, was diagnosed in nearly 5,500 Canadians in 2010 and more than 1,000 people died from it.
The Canadian Cancer Society’s 2014 report, Canadian Cancer Statistics, includes an entire chapter with in-depth analysis of skin cancer in the country.
“Skin cancer takes a significant toll in Canada related to the high burden of annual cases, social impact and costs associated with its treatment,” the report said.
Melanoma and non-melanoma skin cancer will result in almost the same number of new cancer cases as the four major cancers (lung, breast, colorectal, prostate) combined.
The incidence of melanoma in men and women has increased significantly during the past 25 years. It is among the Top 10 cancers diagnosed in Canada, but it is usually identified early and therefore only represents 1.4 per cent of all cancer deaths.
However, mortality from melanoma has increased noticeably during the past 25 years. It shows the second greatest increase in mortality rate since 1970 after liver cancer in males and lung cancer in females.
“To slow the rising rates of melanoma in Canada, greater efforts are needed to encourage sun protection and to restrict indoor tanning use,” the report said.
Skin cancer can be prevented through protective measures when one is outdoors in the sun. The Canadian Cancer Society and other organizations such as the Canadian Dermatology Association, Canadian Pediatric Society, and Sun Smart Saskatchewan have been advocating for measures to regulate the indoor tanning industry, especially legislation to prohibit the use of tanning beds by children and youth under the age of 18.
The results of the Second National Sun Survey, which was conducted in 2006, indicated that Saskatchewan residents were more likely than Canadians in general to use artificial tanning equipment.
In January 2014, an Ipsos Reid survey was conducted for the Canadian Cancer Society in Saskatchewan. It showed significant support for regulation of the tanning industry.
Most respondents (75 per cent) agreed that children should be prevented from using tanning beds while 25 per cent felt parents should decide whether their children can use tanning beds. Seven in 10 (72 per cent) felt legislation is required to regulate the tanning industry.
The Opposition NDP expressed support for a ban on the use of tanning beds by youth under the age of 18, but the government has been resisting calls to regulate the industry.
Last year, Sask. Health Minister Dustin Duncan referred to the call for a ban on youth as a slippery slope towards a ban on adult tanning. He indicated a preference for education and awareness programs and a requirement that young people will need parental permission to use a tanning bed.
Perhaps the introduction of legislation in Alberta will finally convince the Saskatchewan government to follow suit, because it is no achievement to be the only province not protecting children and youth against the risks of indoor tanning.
Matthew Liebenberg is a reporter with the Prairie Post. Contact him with your comments about this opinion piece at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

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