OTTAWA - It's not yet moving to the sometimes hideous pictorial warning labels seen on cigarette packaging, but Ottawa wants to get the message across that tanning beds can be hazardous to your health.
Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq says Health Canada will soon require that all tanning beds carry warnings about skin cancer and other potential dangers.
The proposed changes come after several provinces moved to prevent the use of tanning beds by young people.
Nova Scotia already bans people under 19 from using tanning beds while Manitoba requires written parental consent before anyone under 18 can use them.
And earlier this month, legislation took effect that would ban those under 18 from using tanning beds in Quebec. Ontario and British Columbia have announced plans for similar laws.
France, Germany and Australia also have bans in place affecting younger people.
Using indoor tanning equipment before age 35 significantly increases the risk of developing melanoma skin cancer, according to research by the International Agency for Research on Cancer.
Canada's proposed tanning bed labels don't forbid their use, but instead warn the devices are "Not recommended for use by those under 18 years of age."
The labels would also read: "Tanning Equipment Can Cause Cancer," and carry a list of other health risks associated with tanning.
"The Harper Government is committed to protecting the health and safety of Canadian families," said Aglukkaq.
"Young adults should be concerned about the health risks associated with the use of tanning beds, including skin cancer."
A public comment period on the proposals will close in early May with regulations expected to be posted later this year.
The regulation of tanning beds for commercial use falls under provincial jurisdiction. However, Health Canada regulates the sale, lease and import of tanning beds under the Radiation Emitting Devices Act and Regulations.
"Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer, but it's also one of the most preventable," said Canadian Cancer Society president Pamela Fralick.
"Stronger labelling and clearer information about the dangers of tanning beds may reduce the number of young Canadians exposed to this carcinogen, and this is an important step in the right direction."