Spotlight on tanning salons


Olivier Bourgeois; Geneviève Charlet;


Option consommateurs




According to the Institut national de santé publique du Québec, more than 250,000 Quebecers under the age of 30 used tanning salons at least once a month in 2011. It is therefore essential to know whether users of tanning salon are adequately informed about the problems associated with this practice and to identify the factors that motivate them to continue their dangerous quest for a perfect skin tone. In order to gain more insight into the practices in this industry and how effective action could be undertaken, Option Consommateurs (OC) conducted interviews with 45 frequent users of tanning salons, carried out a survey on 20 tanning salons in Ontario and Quebec, and performed a comparative analysis of various jurisdictions governing the tanning industry.

OC learned that users of tanning salons have insufficient knowledge to determine whether their tanning habits are safe, and rely heavily on information conveyed by the salon operators. OC found that the practices of tanning salon operators with regard to client information are disastrous. The vast majority of tanning salons that our investigators visited were not following the Health Canada recommendations and the personnel in charge never mentioned the guidelines to our investigators, who observed numerous breaches of the regulations. Finally, OC discovered that the regulations governing artificial tanning in several other countries salons are far more stringent than those in force across Canada. OC therefore recommends – short of introducing a complete ban on artificial tanning for cosmetic purposes – that stricter rules be included within the current regulations to ensure that consumers are adequately informed of the risks associated with tanning salons.

Toward this end, OC recommends that tanning salons be required to display, in their booths and their advertisements, health notices with illustrations similar to those currently used on cigarette packs. OC also recommends strengthening enforcement of the current regulations, with provisions for additional inspections of tanning salons and fines for salon operators who refuse to comply. Finally, OC recommends that government authorities such as public health agencies become involved in multi-platform national awareness campaigns aimed at informing Canadians of the risks associated with the practice of artificial tanning.

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OCA Funded Research
This research received funding support through the Office of Consumer Affairs' Contributions Program.

Contact information

50 Sainte-Catherine street West, Suite 440
Montreal, Quebec
H2X 3V4
(514) 598-7288
(514) 598-8511

Source: Consumer Policy Research Database

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