The Tan Ban: How Far is too Far?

February 18, 2013
Class Assignment

BY: NICOLA MACLEOD
Pierre Elliot Trudeau stirred up controversy when he famously said; “there’s no place for the state in the bedrooms of the nation.” He was making the case for striking down the law against homosexuality, but he also made people contemplate, how much involvement should the government have in the lives of its citizens?

In the province of Quebec, as of last Monday, it is illegal to use a tanning bed if you are under the age of 18. Quebec is not the first province to take this leap. It is already common practice in Nova Scotia, and Ontario, Newfoundland and British Columbia hope to introduce similar laws. Thanks to the World Health Organization, indoor tanning for minors has already been banned in France, Germany and Australia.

There are good reasons to be cautious about artificial tanning; there is a growing list of complications associated with the use of tanning beds. They are believed to cause premature aging of the skin, a lagging immune system, eye damage, and two types of cancer; squamous cell carcinoma and melanoma, the latter being the most common. Dermatologists says indoor tanning before the age of 35 increases your chance of developing melanoma by 75 per cent.

In today’s world, it seems like everything gives you cancer. The Canadian Cancer Society says two out of five Canadians will develop cancer during their lifetime, while one quarter of us will die of cancer. This is the reality of our high tech and processed world. The World Health Organization suggests we could get cancer from our cell phones, from our city’s fluoridated water, from the artificial sweeteners in our foods and cosmetic products like hair dye.

What is the point of this tan ban? If we don’t get cancer from tanning, we are probably going to get it from somewhere else. Melanoma does not come exclusively from tanning beds. Everyone had at least one terrible, blistering sunburn as a kid. That alone increased your chance of developing melanoma by more than 50 per cent. What will we do next? Insist that children should be banned from going outside on sunny days because their parents might not apply proper sunscreen?
You have to look out for yourself. There are a multitude of things we can do that may give us cancer or threaten to kill us in one way or another. It used to be about survival of the fittest, but now, the government is taking the steps to make sure everybody lives long and healthy lives, even if Darwin’s theory should have killed them off based on their own stupidity.

So what is the solution? Imposing age restrictions does not seem to be it. Tanning will now turn into a coming of age activity that teens will view as a right of passage, like buying alcohol or gambling. Manitobans believe the solution is to forbid teenage tanning without the consent of a parent, but does parental consent make it okay? There are still many hazardous activities teenagers can do without parental consent.

In Canada, teenage girls do not require parental consent to receive an abortion. However. immediate complications arise in 10 per cent of procedures, while 2 per cent of procedures end in serious or fatal complications. The Elliot Institute, an American organization conducting research on the effects of abortion, says many girls will suffer long-term damage after abortions. A woman who receives an abortion is 4 times as likely to die of natural causes within a year, is 7 times as likely to commit suicide and the trauma of the procedure will cause psychological harm to 44 per cent of women.

I’m not saying we should ban abortions in Canada, that is an entirely different debate. I’m saying we should not give the government as much room to interfere in our lives. We believe ourselves to be freethinking, rational human beings. We should be allowed to exercise our most basic right of judgment.

The facts about tanning are out there. We know the risks. Shouldn’t people be aloud to make their own decisions? Or does the state have a place in the tanning beds of the nation?

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