EDITORIAL: Tanning decision the right one

Some 17 year olds may seem to be blessed with common sense and good judgment.

But the fact is, they are not adults and most lack experience with real-world health issues such as skin cancer to make logical decisions on whether to frequent tanning beds.

It’s up to us as adults to keep our children safe, a point agreed upon last week by 18 of 19 members of the Capital Regional District board, who voted to ban people under 18 from using the tanning beds in Greater Victoria.

We realize that many people believe a golden tan makes a person with light-coloured skin appear healthy. But there are alternatives to the sun or to tanning beds. Excessive exposure to either has been proven to increase the risk of skin cancer. We would encourage people of any age, not just teens, to investigate the options if you’re bent on obtaining that certain “healthy” look.

The industry trotted out its own representatives during public meetings on the matter over the past months to refute the need for a teen ban.

Such action shouldn’t have come as a surprise to anyone, even if, according to industry figures, the age group in question makes up just one per cent of its client base.

The reality is a decision banning the activity for under-18s, and the ensuing regulations requiring businesses to ask for ID of anyone who appears to be under 25, will no doubt impact tanning-bed use by adults. That may well affect the livelihood of the nearly 30 outlets regionwide that provide such services.

But this issue goes far deeper than the tans these operators help people gain. It’s a matter of doing the right thing for young people in our community while they are still in our care.

Some teens may still go out of their way, say to Duncan, to get their tanning fix. But at least in our jurisdiction, it’s important we enforce such rules to let them know we care about them and their future health.