News: Will banning teens from tanning beds make them want to tan more?

The Joint Canadian Tanning Association (JCTA) is speaking out against a private members bill that would warn consumers about the


The Joint Canadian Tanning Association (JCTA) is speaking out against a private members bill that would warn consumers about the potential health risks associated with tanning beds, reports The Canadian Press. No big surprise there. The proposed legislation, which will be introduced to the House by Conservative MP James Bezan in March, will require that tanning beds be labeled with warnings that clearly link UV rays with an increased risk for skin cancer. The awareness campaign would target teens, who may not know the risks associated with tanning beds. The World Health Organization and the Canadian Cancer Society would rather see teens banned from tanning beds altogether, CP reports. Click through to read why Best Health writer Lesley Young came to the same conclusion in her article “Let’s outlaw tanning beds for teens,” published in the May 2009 issue.

In addition to the JCTA’s claim that there isn’t enough solid scientific evidence to link tanning beds with the increased risk for skin cancer (even though the WHO has classified the beds as ‘carcinogenic to humans), the association is making that tired age-old argument that teens will do what teens will do’direct labelling and banning kids from tanning will only make them want to tan more.

Gosh, that sounds familiar. Harken back, if you will, to a time when cigarettes did not have labels that clearly stated, ‘Smoking can kill you.’ That wasn’t really that long ago: it was just 1993 when tobacco companies were required to put direct warnings on all cigarette packages. And the tobacco companies fought that legislation tooth and nail.

I was a teenager back then and, like the kids interviewed in this clip from CBC News archives, the labels didn’t’regrettably’stop me from joining the cool kids for a puff every now and then. However, those warnings did have an effect on me’I knew smoking was bad for my health and that knowledge kept me from smoking past those very experimental first years of high school.

Today, not many teens can say they don’t know the risks they face if they decide to experiment with smoking. According to Health Canada’s Youth Smoking Survey, the number of teens who smoke has decreased by about 1.2 million since 1999. Doesn’t it stand to reason that letting teens know what they’re getting into when they choose to use tanning beds will help them make wiser choices as they mature? What do you think? Should the House support this proposed bill? Should the legislation go even further to ban teens from using the beds?

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