Push to copy Aussies and ban tanning beds

Last updated 05:00 19/02/2012
Sunbeds
KELLY SCHICKER / Waikato Times
BAD PRACTISE: The NSW Government plans to totally ban the use of solarium by the end of 2014.

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The shine has gone off sunbeds.

Almost 70 per cent of Kiwis think they should be banned, and more than 80 per cent believe they are dangerous.

Health officials are pushing for a ban here after it was announced they would be banned from 2014 in New South Wales, Australia. Other Australian states were expected to follow. Brazil is the only other country to have banned sunbeds.

New Zealand, which has one of the highest skin cancer rates in the world, does not regulate the tanning industry.

Cancer Society national health promotion manager Dr Jan Pearson said protecting children might be behind the high support for a ban.

"The roll started with New South Wales and other states are saying they will follow. And often where Australia goes, it seems like a no-brainer for us."

A Sunday Star-Times reader poll of more than 1000 people showed more women favoured a ban than men. Only 4% of respondents were regular users, but more than a quarter had used them in the past.

Many readers believed sunbeds cause cancer.

"Ten years ago I had an operation to remove a dangerous melanoma on my back.

"I'm convinced it was caused by laying directly on the sunbed over several pre-summers," one said.

Another melanoma survivor said she shuddered when she heard of people putting themselves at risk by using sunbeds.

Others said a ban would be "unfair" and instead favoured tighter regulations and education.

Pearson said recent US research showed pre-adolescents wanted more tanning. "Parents could be thinking one way of protecting them was by supporting a ban."

New Zealand's voluntary standard for operators includes ensuring all sunbeds are supervised, and not allowing people under 18, or with the fair skin types, to use them. But in 2011 Consumer sent 66 people to sunbed outlets in 12 locations and only 12 of the 66 operators met all of the requirements.

Pearson said a group, which included MelNet and the Melanoma Foundation, had been formed and hoped a private members bill could be put forward this year.

The group would initially push for mandatory regulation so under 18-year-olds could not use sunbeds, and then for a ban. "Anything would be better than what we have got at the moment."

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