Opinion

Michaels: Fake tans on teens are stupid, tacky and banned

Who knew Health Minister Mike de Jong would need to get between B.C. teenagers and their desire for orange skin?

One would have thought the frightful looking cast of the Jersey Shore or a fear of melanoma would have become a deterrent long ago, but according to Kathryn Seely, director of public issues for the Canadian Cancer Society, that's not the case.

“Our most recent research shows that up to a quarter of youths still use indoor tanning beds," she said, after the provincial announcement that minors will soon be restricted from using commercial tanning beds unless they’re provided a prescription by a medical doctor.

It begs the question, is there something wrong with parents?

Things is, young people have a developing frontal lobe that gives them a pass on a lot of stupid/impetuous decisions until their early 20s. It's the reason why I don't beat myself up when I notice the faint scars from piercings acquired during the grunge era.

Presumably, however, most parents have fully functioning brains, that allow them to make comment on matters more dire than a lapse in fashion sense.

Tanning beds have been shown to increase the risk of melanoma—the third-most commonly diagnosed cancer in youths between the ages of 15 and 29—by 75 per cent.

So when one-quarter of Canadian parents see their children heading home with a preternatural glow why don't they say "hey, Sally, why are you taking steps to age rapidly?"

And: "Do you really want to suffer the pain of ridding yourself of skin cancer (knock on wood it's possible) for the short term gain of a tan?"

Or, finally: "Howzabout discussing the ways you don't become a drain on health care?"

Perhaps these conversations aren't being held because the bulk of Canadian adults are suffering from a historic position of privilege, coupled with a blissful dose of ignorance.

Most of us can't fathom a world where sun-worshiping is just as distasteful  as lighting up a cigarette in the middle of a daycare.

But there are countries in Asia where it's the norm to see women walk around with full plastic face masks to ensure they don't suffer the aging effects of the sun.

Australians are inundated with public service announcements warning citizens of the deadly effects of the sun and related rising costs of health care. So much so, that it almost dwarfs  Canada's fight to make people stop smoking.

We're still in pretty good stead in this corner of the world when it comes to natural sources of vitamin D, so maybe the cancer society's 25 per cent estimate isn't a sign of stupidity.

Maybe it's a sign Canadians need a little less legislation and a lot more education.

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