Tanning industry calls new cancer warning labels overkill
Published Monday, February 25, 2013 11:32PM PST
Health Canada’s new tanning bed warning labels that highlight the risk of getting skin cancer are heavy-handed and unnecessary, according to industry representatives.
The federal government revealed the replacement labels on Sunday, painting them as a tool for alerting young adults about the potential health hazards associated with ultraviolet radiation.
According to the World Health Organization, the risk of contracting melanoma increases by 75 per cent in those who start using tanning beds before the age of 35.
But tanning beds already carry detailed warnings labels, and Steven Gilroy of the Joint Canadian Tanning Association said the new labels are overkill.
“I don’t think there’s a need for it,” Gilroy said. “Because you have a professional and certified, trained operator skin-typing the person using the exposure schedules recommended by the manufacturer, I don’t think you need to go to an extreme warning.”
The current labels read “Danger: ultraviolet radiation,” and list the potential harms associated with tanning beds. Skin cancer is mentioned towards the end, following after warnings about burned skin, premature aging and advice about wearing eyewear and following instructions.
The government’s new labels read “Danger: tanning equipment can cause cancer” in large lettering, followed by a list of other potential health impacts.
Kathy Bernard, president of the Save Your Skin Foundation, applauded the new labels but said they should go even further.
Bernard, a melanoma survivor, suggested the warning labels could feature a graphic image similar to the ones plastered on cigarette packages.
“Let them see a picture of some of the kids we’ve worked with that have had major parts of their body removed, and major spots taken from their face, and had to have their face reconstructed because they were exposed to UV,” she said.
Health Canada plans to unveil its final proposal in May, but the changes won’t take effect immediately. The government has promised to require all new tanning beds bought or imported into Canada to carry the label, but can not force existing salons to put the warnings on their machines because that regulation falls under provincial jurisdiction.
Some provinces have already banned the use of tanning beds by young people, while others, including Ontario and B.C. have announced similar measures.
With a report from CTV British Columbia’s Shannon Paterson