For decades, people have gone to tanning beds to get a 'base tan', thinking it would protect them from the sun while on vacation or at work. The truth is that tanned skin is damaged skin. Artificial ultravoilet rays (UVR) cause skin damage that can lead to skin cancer. Tanning beds can also cause premature aging and cataracts. And contrary to what you might have heard, you don’t need to visit a tanning salon to get your vitamin D. Taking a vitamin D supplement is a much safer way to get the vitamin D your body needs.

Health Canada has released the following statement on tanning:

“Health Canada advises Canadians that there is no such thing as a safe
or healthy tan, whether under the sun or in a tanning bed.”

tanning bed tubes


Just like the sun, tanning beds and sun lamps use UV radiation to tan your skin. Studies show that some tanning beds can expose you to 5 times more radiation than the sun.

The World Health Organization upgraded the classification of UV-emitting devices, such as tanning beds, from a probable carcinogen to a known carcinogen. In other words, tanning beds are no longer something we think probably causes cancer – we know they cause cancer.


A 2012 review of studies by the British Medical Journal shows that people who first started using indoor tanning equipment before the age of 35 have a 59% increased risk of melanoma.

In response many governments have banned indoor tanning for people under the age of 18, including:

  • British Columbia, Ontario, Quebec, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, Newfoundland and Labrador. Alberta’s minister of health says he also plans to bring forward legislation
  • countries such as Brazil, France, Belgium, Germany, Spain, Portugal, Ireland and the United Kingdom. 
  • Australian states, including New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland and Western Australia  
  • US states, including Illinois, Texas, California, Minnesota, Louisiana, Washington and Oregon

Many organizations have also called for a ban on youth tanning, including: 

  • World Health Organization 
  • United States Surgeon General
  • Canadian Medical Association 
  • Canadian Dermatology Association 
  • Canadian Cancer Society
  • Health Canada
  • American Academy of Dermatology
  • Canadian Pediatric Society 
  • Saskatchewan Medical Association 
  • Doctors of Nova Scotia
  • Alberta Medical Association 

A number of important academic studies also support a ban on youth indoor tanning. A study looking at the compliance rate of the state ban in California found that “jurisdictions wanting to protect children and teenagers from the carcinogenic effects of indoor tanning can have a meaningful impact with complete bans (rather than parental consent laws).” (Grewal 2013).
See some of the supporting documents from these groups in our resources page.

An Ipsos Reid poll found 83% of Saskatchewan residents support a ban. If you would like to add your voice, Take action and tell your MLA that Saskatchewan youth deserve the same protection as other Canadian teens.

Find out the truth about indoor tanning myths.

To learn about the tanning habits of Saskatchewan youth, checkout the Sun Smart Saskatchewan youth tanning survey.

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