B.C. Tanning Bed Ban

Changes to the provincial Regulated Activities Regulation ban people under the age of 18 (minors) from using tanning equipment, to reduce the chances of developing skin cancer later in life. The regulation, under the Public Health Act, defines tanning equipment as equipment designed to cause tanning of the skin through exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation.

Under the regulation, minors are not permitted to use tanning equipment – and operators must not allow them to use it – unless the minor has a medical prescription. The operator must follow the exact directions in the prescription regarding how the customer is to use the tanning equipment.

Why is a medical prescription permitted? UV radiation (phototherapy) is used to treat some skin diseases, such as psoriasis and eczema. However, access to a phototherapy clinic is not always readily available (e.g., in rural areas). For this reason, youth under 18 years of age may use tanning beds for phototherapy, but only with a doctor’s prescription. The benefits of treatment versus the risks of UV radiation exposure are a matter for the patient and physician to discuss before making a decision.

Tanning bed facilities must display a government-approved sign in a clearly visible location, advising staff and customers about the under-18 tanning ban.

Summary of the New Tanning Bed Rules

Below is an outline of the tanning bed rules in the Regulated Activities Regulation. This is for information only and not the actual regulation

Minors are prohibited from using tanning facilities unless they have a medical prescription.

  • The operator of a tanning facility must not permit a person under 18 years of age to use tanning equipment in a tanning bed facility.
  • The exception to this ban is a person under 18 who holds a prescription written by a B.C. medical practitioner or nurse practitioner.
  • UV radiation (phototherapy) is used to treat some skin diseases, such as psoriasis and eczema. The operator must follow the exact directions in the prescription regarding how the customer is to use the tanning equipment.

An approved sign must be posted in a prominent place in the tanning facility.

  • A tanning facility must display a clearly visible, B.C. government-approved sign in a prominent place where customers purchase services.
  • There are two kinds of approved signage:
  • A sign that can be hung on the wall, door, etc
  • A smaller, adhesive-backed label that can be attached to such places as a counter or cash register.
  • Both the sign and label state: “It is illegal to permit persons under 18 to use UV tanning equipment in this facility without a prescription.”

Offences

If the operator of a tanning facility permits a person under 18 years to use tanning equipment and/or does not post an approved sign in a clearly visible location, he/she contravenes the Regulated Activities Regulation. Each offence carries a $345 fine. Environmental health officers from the regional health authorities are responsible for enforcement.

How Was the Tanning Bed Ban Developed?

The tanning ban was developed through consultation with representatives from medical organizations, government agencies and the tanning industry. In September 2011, the Minister of Health directed that the Indoor Tanning Working Group (ITWG) be formed to make recommendations on indoor UV tanning by minors.

The Report of the Indoor Tanning Working Group (PDF, 1.2MB) was completed in December 2011. With the exception of the Joint Canadian Tanning Association (JCTA), ITWG members recommended the Province ban youth under 18 from using commercial tanning equipment without a medical prescription. After reviewing the ITWG Report, in March 2012 the B.C. Government announced its intent to ban tanning equipment use by youth under 18 years. The new law took effect on October 15, 2012