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Regulate tanning bed use, MPP urges

Thursday, March 24, 2011
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France Gelinas and Martin Kabat have never met, but the Nickel Belt MPP and the CEO of the Canadian Cancer Society have one issue in common.

Both believe indoor tanning can be deadly, especially for youngsters, and should be banned for use by minors.

Indoor tanning is known to be a “class one carcinogen” and is “one of the most dangerous things you can do,” said Kabat during a visit to Sudbury on Wednesday.

“Yet, we don’t have legislation to stop it … Until government is willing to legislate on these issues, it won’t change,” Kabat said at a news conference at the Holiday Inn in Sudbury.

Gelinas introduced a private member’s bill in April 2009 — Bill 31, the Skin Cancer Prevention Act — that would have banned youths from tanning beds, and brought in mandatory registration and training for tanning bed operators.

Her bill passed second reading last session, but was lost when the legislative session ended.

Gelinas was ready to reintroduce the bill this session, but said the Liberals’ position is it is up to parents to protect their children from indoor planning.

But Kabat said legislation is the most powerful weapon in the arsenal against cancer.

“We know now that something like indoor tanning causes skin melanoma and we don’t want to wait until thousands of our young people are suffering from cancer later in life before we finally take action,” he said.

While the province isn’t prepared to act on indoor tanning, Gelinas said the City of Greater Sudbury and the Sudbury and District Health Unit may be.

She is preparing a bylaw to be presented to city council.

The city and the health unit beat the trend several years ago by enacting anti-smoking bylaws in Sudbury that predated provincewide antitobacco laws.

Rates of cancer are predicted to rise dramatically in the next few decades, and Kabat said the Canadian Cancer Society is looking more and more to better screening and education to prevent cancers.

Early-stage cancers are more treatable, he said.

“If we can screen more accurately and precisely for cancers, we can get them before they reach stage three and four when they’re very hard to treat,” he said.

Cancer can be successfully treated nine times out of 10 — or more — when it is detected in stage one.

Simple inexpensive screening tests, such as the fecal occult blood test for colorectal cancer — a subject that wasn’t even talked about in public until recently — can have tremendous payoffs.

So can gathering more thorough family histories, so people can be better screened. “This can save lives by the thou-sands,” he said.

Urging people to make better lifestyle choices is always a hard sell.

“We’ve known for years that certain foods are damaging,” said Kabat.

“The question is, how do we get that connection between poor choices and better personal decisions that people make? We can’t legislate weight. We can’t legislate what you eat. There comes a point where we end up in this softer universe where the schools and physicians and others have to take a stronger position on these issues.”

As the Canadian Cancer Society creates programs such as its Cancer Information Service, to help people make better lifestyle choices, it continues to lobby governments federally and provincially to enact legislation regarding known carcinogens.

Kabat said the best way for Sudburians to “show your alignment with the fight against cancer” is to wear the yellow daffodil pin that is a symbol of the society’s April Daffodil campaign.

Wearing the pin makes a statement that “you’re part of the fight against cancer, and I think it helps people see that the whole country and certainly this whole region is together in this fight.”

JCTA Comments left on website

The Joint Canadian Tanning Association (JCTA) and its local members look forward to working with France Gelinas and the CCS, if the City of Sudbury wishes to create a bylaw for the indoor sunbathing community. We believe that all stakeholders should be involved and working groups seem to get the best results. The JCTA has been looking to governments to create regulations to protect all ages from overexposure, which includes parents involvement in the decision making process of their teens.

As is everything in life, the key is moderation