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Artificial Tanning

The increased risk of skin cancer associated with early use of tanning beds/lamps is a concern because adolescent are frequent users of such equipment. In Ontario, a report published in 2009 about grade 10 students in London found that 14% had ever used tanning equipment, with greater use among females.

An unpublished report commissioned by the Canadian Cancer Society (CCS) Ontario division in 2012 found that 9% of adolescents aged 12-17 reported having ever used tanning beds/lamps, and that use was higher (16%) in grades 11 and 12.

Restricting adolescent access to tanning equipment is a potentially effective method of reducing skin cancer in the population.


Many countries around the world have legislated to restrict the use of tanning equipment, particularly among teens. In Canada, tanning equipment itself is regulated federally, while limits on the use of the equipment, including age restrictions, fines, signage requirements, and advertising vary by province, and in a few cases even by municipality (where provincial legislation is lacking).

In the spring of 2014, the Skin Cancer Prevention Act (Tanning Beds) (referred to as “the Act” in this report) came into effect in Ontario (note: it was previously passed into law in October 2013.) The Act and its associated Regulations prohibit the sale and marketing of tanning services to those under 18 years of age.


The Act requires tanning bed operators to request identification from anyone who appears to be under 25 years of age; requires signage indicating the age restriction and health risks; requires the provision of protective eye wear and instructions on its use; and requires an attendant be present during tanning sessions (no self-tanning).

Under the Act, tanning bed operators are also required to register with their local public health unit, which are then responsible for enforcing the Act and ensuring compliance.


February 2019

Gosselin S, McWhirter, J. Assessing the content and comprehensiveness of provincial and territorial indoor tanning legislation in Canada, 2019. Health Promotion and Chronic Disease Prevention in Canada, Vol 39, No 2.

September 2018

Study, co-authored by OSSWG co-chair, Jennifer McWhirter finds the number of tanning salons in Ontario has been declining over the past decade. McWhirter, J.E., Byl, S., Green, A., Sears, W., & Papadopoulos, A. (2018). Availability of tanning salons in Ontario relative to indoor tanning policy (2001-2017). Preventive Medicine Reports, 12, 40-45. DOI: 10.1016/j.pmedr.2018.08.010

December 2017

Deliberate tanning common among Ontario high school students

According to data collected in the 2015 school-based Cancer Risk Assessment in Youth Survey (CRAYS), 80% of 2,053 Ontario students in Grades 9 to 12 have deliberately tried to get or keep a tan. The percentage of students who tanned deliberately was slightly higher among older students (Grades 10 to 12) than among students in Grade 9. 

Cancer Care Ontario - Ontario cancer Facts - December 2017

June 28, 2017

Webcast: An assessment of the first year of a ban on tanning beds and lamps among adolescents in Ontario Canada. Presented by John Atkinson, Victoria Nadalin and Jennifer McWhiter.

June 2017

Atkinson J, Cawley C, Marrett L, McWhirter J, Nadalin V, Rosen CF, Tenkate TD (2017). An assessment of the first year of a ban on tanning beds and lamps among adolescents in Ontario, Canada. Toronto: Ontario Sun Safety Working Group.

March 2017

The Ontario Public Health Convention Presentation:

Tanning Practices of Canadian High School Students: Canadian Risk Assessment in Youth Survey (2015)

Nadalin V, Marrett L, Minaker LM, Manske S.

January 2017

Tanning equipment use: 2014 Canadian Community Health Survey

In 2014, the Canadian Community Health Survey collected data on tanning equipment use by residents of the 10 provinces.  Based on these data, this analysis presents prevalence estimates of indoor tanning and associated injury.

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