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Saskatchewan rejects youth tanning bed ban

Saskatchewan rejects youth tanning bed banAn attendant cleans a tanning bed in North Vancouver, March, 20, 2012. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward

REGINA - The Saskatchewan government continues to reject a ban on young people using tanning beds despite their link to melanoma — a deadly form of skin cancer.

The Canadian Cancer Society and the Canadian Dermatology Association met with lawmakers in Regina to make another pitch for legislation.

They also shared the results of an Ipsos Reid poll done in January that suggests 83 per cent of adults surveyed in the province would support such a ban.

Health Minister Dustin Duncan said the government will continue studying what other jurisdictions are doing, but doesn't like the idea of prohibiting people under 18 or 19 from indoor tanning.

He said such a ban would not deal with the problem of people getting too much sun outside.

"Overexposure to sun could have the same kind of effect," he said Tuesday.

"I wouldn't want to leave people with a false sense of security that we are just going to ban something for a certain age group and that it will no longer be a problem for society."

The Canadian Dermatology Association says some indoor tanning equipment can emit up to 15 times more UV radiation than the midday sun at its peak.

The association says the use of indoor tanning equipment before the age of 35 increases the risk of developing melanoma by 59 per cent.

It also notes that 40 per cent of all female tanners under 19 used indoor tanning beds more than 10 times a year.

Donna Pasiechnik, a spokeswoman for the Canadian Cancer Society, said it is hard to understand the government's reluctance to take action that would prevent some people from getting skin cancer.

"We don't understand why the Saskatchewan government is so hesitant to move and protect young people from a known carcinogen when seven other provinces have done so," she said.

Saskatchewan, Alberta and Manitoba are the only provinces that don't ban youths from using tanning beds. Manitoba allows youths to use tanning beds if they bring a note from their parents.

The Ipsos Reid survey also indicated that 85 per cent of adults survey in the province believe the government should restrict the tanning industry from advertising to young people.

"That polling told us clearly that the public is supportive of a tanning ban for youth and that they want the tanning industry regulated so that they can no longer promote their services to children," she said.

"Why are they so reluctant? It is disappointing, it is discouraging, but we are not going to give up."

The Saskatchewan government has been reviewing the idea of a ban on young people using tanning beds for at least two years.

Skin cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in Canadians.

A group called Sun Smart Saskatchewan estimates that 17 per cent of young people in the province have used tanning beds, and that 61 per cent have started before they were 15 years old.

The Ipsos Reid survey of 516 adults in Saskatchewan is considered to be accurate within plus or minus 4.9 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

— By John Cotter in Edmonton

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