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Mixed reactions to tanning ban in Nanaimo

Nanaimo students and tanning salon owners have mixed responses to the province's decision to ban young people from tanning beds.

Nanaimo students and tanning salon owners have mixed responses to the province's decision to ban young people from tanning beds.

Youth under 18 will have to find alternative methods of achieving a year-round glow this fall when the proposed regulation is expected to take effect, unless they have a medical prescription.

The ban is to reduce the chances of developing skin cancer later in life, the province says.

Last year, the Capital Regional District banned youth under 18 from tanning beds, which prompted the province to establish a working group to review the issue. Youth under 19 are banned from tanning in Nova Scotia.

Phebe Briggs, a Grade 11 student at John Barsby Secondary School, said she understands why government is doing this, but is disappointed she won't be able to tan next winter – she won't turn 18 until the spring.

"I know it's really bad for you, especially when you're younger, " she said. "But I really like tanning because it makes me feel good. It's relaxing."

Briggs said although an outright ban will upset some teens, limits on how often youth tan are a good idea because some people overdo it.

"Some girls take it too far, especially young ones," said Briggs. "I've seen a couple girls who get red instead of tanned. I used to go too much, so then I would get too dark and it wouldn't look as good."

Delaine Rangno, owner of Spanish Sol Tanning Studio, thinks requiring all salons to follow a set of guidelines is the answer, not bans.

She said people should be limited by skin type, not age. Her business belongs to the Joint Canadian Tanning Association and staff have Smart Tan certification.

Guidelines for Rangno's staff include ensuring people wait at least 24 hours between sessions, parental consent for youth under 16 and controlling the length of time people are permitted to tan.

The ban won't impact her business much, she added, because less than two per cent of her clients are under 18 and many tan for medical reasons such as seasonal affective disorder or acne.

Julie Bravo, co-owner of Solisa Tanning, thinks the ban on youth tanning is a positive move – she tries to limit youth from tanning at her salon and only about five per cent of her clients are under 18.

"Your skin is way more sensitive at that age," she said.

Nikole Schluessel, a Grade 10 student at Wellington Secondary School, agrees with the ban.

She's been collecting pledges from Grade 12's stating they won't use tanning beds before prom or grad as part of the Canadian Cancer Society's Tan Free Grad Challenge and about 50 per cent of the school's graduating class has signed up.

"I see a lot of youth using tanning equipment," said Schluessel. "A lot of students tan in high school to fit in and feel beautiful. I think [the ban] is going to open a lot of people's eyes to the dangers."

Studies indicate that indoor tanning before the age of 35 raises the risk of melanoma – the most deadly form of skin cancer – by 75 per cent.

The B.C. Cancer Agency estimates that 966 British Columbians will be diagnosed with melanoma this year and 150 will die of it.