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The Harmful Effects of Tanning

Why is Tanning Dangerous?

tanning bed is equal to 5 times the radiation of the summer sun
  • There is no safe way to get a tan. Tanned skin is damaged skin. Even when the tan fades, the damage is still there.
  • Ultraviolet (UV) radiation from tanning beds can be five times stronger than the mid-day summer sun.

Tanning and Skin Cancer

  • Too much UV radiation from the sun or tanning beds is the main cause of skin cancer.
  • Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in Ontario. There are 3 types of skin cancer:
  • The World Health Organization (WHO) has classified tanning beds in its highest risk category for cancer risk along with tobacco and asbestos.
  • Using tanning beds before age 35 can increase a person's risk of melanoma by 75%.
  • Tanning Bed Use among Youth

    woman in tanning bed

    According to a 2012 IPSOS survey, the use of tanning beds among Ontario students in grades 7-12 (aged 12 to 17) is increasing. This same survey also found that:

    • more than 20% of grade 12 student’s use tanning beds to get a tan
    • 24% of youth indoor tanners said that their parent(s) introduced them to tanning beds and more than half of the parents paid for their tanning bed use
    For more information on the survey, please click here:IPSOS Survey

    Ontario's Skin Cancer Prevention Act (Bill 30)

    On May 1, 2014, Ontario’s new Skin Cancer Prevention Act came into effect. This Act:

    tanning salong sign
    • Bans youth under 18 from using tanning beds.
    • Bans advertising and marketing of tanning services to youth under 18.
    • Requires tanning bed operators to request identification from anyone who appears under 25 years old.
    • Requires tanning bed operators to post signs about the ban and the health risks of tanning bed use.
    • Requires that all individuals using tanning beds are provided with protective eyewear.
    • Requires that all tanning bed operators provide written notice of their location and business contact information to their local Health Units.
    • Authorizes inspectors to inspect and enforce these requirements.
    • Sets fines for tanning bed operators who fail to comply.

    The Skin Cancer Prevention Act protects young people from the harmful effects of UV from tanning beds.

    For more information on Ontario's new Skin Cancer Prevention Act, please visit, or call the Health Department’s Environmental Help Line at 1-888-777-9613.

    Additional Resources


    Canadian Cancer Society. (2013). Indoor Tanning. Retrieved October 2013.
    Cancer Care Ontario. (2011). Cancer Fact: Cost of skin cancer in Ontario will exceed $344 million in 2011. Retrieved October 2013
    Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care. (2014). The Skin Cancer Prevention Act (Tanning Beds), 2013.
    IPSOS. (2012). Despite warnings, more youth in Ontario using indoor tanning beds. Retrieved October 2013.