|Victoria, B.C. and Nova Scotia have tanning bed regulations for youth in place. (QMI file)
Teens, redheads, extreme tanners and people with a family history of skin cancer might have to get their sun tans the old-fashioned way in Prince Edward Island after the province created strict guidelines for salon owners.
"Our province has one of the highest rates of melanoma in the country," Health Minister Doug Currie said in a press release. "It's time to take action and to provide more information to Islanders about the potential health risks associated with tanning beds, in an effort to reduce the risks of skin damage and cancer."
The guidelines, while rigid, are also voluntary -- a fact that's been slammed by the opposition and cancer associations in the province. The province expects the industry to comply, but it hasn't enacted enforceable legislation.
Under the new guidelines, tanning bed owners are asked to assess a client's skin type before a tanning session. Anyone with skin type 1 -- described as "very light" or "nordic" skin that "often burns" and "tends to have freckles" -- is to be turned away.
The tanning beds are also off limits for anyone with a skin condition, a rash or a personal or family history of skin cancer.
Some prom-goers will stay pasty too, as the new rules require clients to be 18 or over.
Clients will have to sign consent forms before tanning, and salons will be expected to keep detailed records of clients' skin history.
Clients also can't use tanning beds more frequently than every 48 hours.
Steve Gilroy, executive director of the Joint Canadian Tanning Association (JCTA), a non-profit that represents salons and the tanning industry in Canada, said he supports most of the guidelines and notes most salons already follow similar ones issued by the JTCA.
But he warned the under-18 ban will just push teens to unregulated forms of tanning.
"We're disappointed that they went with the ban. We believe that parents have the right to make that decision," he said.
"Our concern is what this will do is take this to the underground and people will start picking up home units."
Home units, which range from hundreds of dollars to thousands, are not subject to any government regulations.
While he admitted teens make up a very small portion of tanning salons' clientele -- the average client is 30 -- he still opposes the age limit.
"It really comes down to the perception of what a ban says to people more than what we're losing from our sales," he said. "It gives an image that there's something wrong with it. It puts us in categories where it shouldn't be."
Despite this, Gilroy said the JTCA recommends its members comply with the new regulations.
"We never want to counter a government even though we may disagree with them," he said.
New Brunswick and Saskatchewan both ban people under 18 from using tanning beds, though the regulations are voluntary. Nova Scotia's ban is for anyone under 19.
Victoria, B.C., recently became the first municipality to ban youth under 18 from using tanning beds.
The World Health Organization says tanning beds are a major cause of cancer and using them before age 30 increases the risk of cancer by 45%.