As our long time friends The Spice Girls once said, “Too much of something is bad enough.” The debate over the use of tanning beds has long been a controversial one. Supporters of indoor tanning claim there are numerous benefits to be had, while detractors like to point their pasty finger, screaming “cancer!” I believe that a healthy balance can be achieved by our tanning facilities, allowing for a safe and controlled environment without implementing strict bans.
New Brunswick was the first to jump on the ban-wagon, in 1992, by disallowing anyone under the age of 18 to tan, and with a limit of one tan every 48 hours. Victoria, British Columbia recently decided that this was a fantastic idea and imposed their first tanning ban, also refusing to bake their teens. In my humble opinion, bans create unintended consequences by stripping away the choice and free will of responsible people to make their own decisions. Instead of enlightening young adults about the benefits and risks of such an activity, a ban eliminates it altogether and in turn removes an opportunity for education. While they’re at it, why don’t they ban frolicking in the summer sun, working outdoors, or lying on the beach? If abused, those rays can be just as harmful as tanning beds.
Angie Woodhead, co-owner of Cabana Tan in Victoria stated, “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.”
I believe that there are measures that can be taken to aid in discouraging overuse of indoor tanning, which will still allow the individual the right to exercise their freedom of choice. Tanning facilities can lower the number of minutes an individual can use the bed, limit the number of times one can tan during a week, up the price of a tanning package in order to discourage young adults from participating, educate the clients prior to tanning of the risks due to overuse, eliminate the option of tanning packages that run longer than 1 month, and, finally, eradicate any form of advertisement for indoor tanning during the hottest months of summer.
Salon owner Delaine Rangno, who was actively involved in the Canadian Cancer Society’s public forum, said in the Nanaimo Daily News that she would “prefer to see regulations that require salons to act responsibly.” She also stated that indoor tanning allows for young people to learn how to tan without burning.
Youth should take the time to learn and understand that moderate UV exposure can be therapeutic, enhance the body’s Vitamin D levels, allow for a base tan before the summer months to avoid burning, and reduce the winter blues. I feel that instead of taking the time to impose some reasonable guidelines for tanners of all ages, Victoria has chosen to overlook an opportunity for community growth. Those antsy little 17 year olds are just going to be counting down the days until they can enjoy endless sun. Oh, for the days when fake IDs were used just to get into bars…
Allow me once again to quote The Spice Girls, who had some wise words for this generation: “Too much of something is bad enough” (someone tell Snooki). Yet the most important message lies in their next two hit lines: “But something’s coming over me to make me wonder. Too much of nothing is just as tough.”