Oak Bay youth help tilt tanning decision

  • Jan. 18, 2011 11:00 a.m.
University of Victoria students and Oak Bay High graduates Stephanie Wong

University of Victoria students and Oak Bay High graduates Stephanie Wong

Ban on under-18 use of facilities includes fines for violations in CRD

Teenagers in Greater Victoria looking to add a little colour to their complexion will have to hope for sunny skies.

After a marathon meeting that stretched into the evening last Wednesday, the Capital Regional District board voted to ban anyone under the age of 18 from using tanning beds.

The ban stems from a report by Vancouver Island Health Authority chief medical health officer Dr. Richard Stanwick, who was among more than 40 people who spoke at the meeting.

Stanwick called out claims of health benefits associated with tanning when he pulled a bottle of vitamin D supplements from his pocket and held it high for all to see.

“By tanning in tanning salons, the exposure starts early in life and they’re gaining an early start on the path to cumulative skin damage,” Stanwick said, “…When children are growing, their cells are dividing and scientists will tell you that that’s the worst time to have DNA exposed to any kind of radiation, especially the UV radiation.”

Members of the Joint Canadian Tanning Association and local salon owners were well represented. Many of their comments were anchored in the belief that they were left out of the process of developing guidelines.

“Contrary to what some media and the Canadian Cancer Society have stated, our industry supports regulations – regulations that increase professionalism, cleanliness, and most importantly public safety – not the bylaw that is on the table,” said Angie Woodhead, co-owner of Cabana Tan in Victoria.

“Bylaw 3711 does nothing more but to feed into the ongoing fear-mongering surrounding indoor tanning.”

The new rules require tanning salons to check ID and post warning signs about the risks of tanning.

Fines for contravention of the bylaw range from $250 to $2,000.

Minors may still use the beds for supervised medical purposes.

Youth in support of the bylaw came to the meeting with prepared speeches and videos featuring their peers who are also in favour of banning indoor tanning,

“Not often do we listen to our youth and not often are they encouraged to become political in nature,” said Oak Bay Mayor Christopher Causton.

“We always say that we want to get youth involved and they definitely spoke up,” added Victoria Coun. Charlayne Thornton-Joe.

nnorth@saanichnews.com