Sunbeds bill may end tanning abuse

LISA KNIGHT
Last updated 09:00 02/08/2014

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The Manawatu Cancer Society has welcomed a move to restrict sunbeds for under 18-year-olds.

The Health (Protection) Amendment Bill was introduced to Parliament yesterday, which will make UV tanning beds illegal for under 18s.

Manawatu Cancer Society community health advocate Kerry Hocquard said the move would make a difference to skin cancer rates in New Zealand.

"I'm very encouraged to see that it has been put forward, certainly we'd really like to see sunbeds being banned for under 18-year-olds. Particularly because we know from Australian campaigns that sunbeds do contribute to the skin cancer rates, particularly melanoma," she said.

Hocquard said in the lead up to school ball season, when school girls might want to use tanning beds, they should consider other options.

"They can consider using spray tans instead; it would be great if they'd consider loving the skin they're in . . . but if they do want that tanned look then using the spray tans is a much better idea."

Studio 31 beauty salon co-owner Wendy Newth, who has previously suffered from melanoma skin cancer, said she supported the move. Her salon already restricted under-18s.

"People just abuse them and use them too much, we're very strict on it," Newth said.

"I used to cook myself and cook myself every day before I turned 30 . . . the sensible thing to do is use sunbeds moderately . . . like all things it needs to be used in moderation."

People needed to be educated in not abusing the sun or sunbeds, she said.

"We're really proactive, we do a lot of waxing so we're always checking bodies and moles and sending people to the doctor."

Anigma Beauty Therapy owner Jules Farmer, whose salon had also banned under-18s, said the restriction was necessary but she didn't want to see tanning beds banned altogether, like they were in some states in Australia.

"I think 16 is far too young to know what it does. I just think it's better for the individual to make an informed choice," she said.

"Once they're older I'm not against them, I think a balance is needed but our society has a view of chucking the baby out with the bath water."

Farmer said she believed there should be strong restrictions, but sunbeds were safer than being out in the sun. "Especially in New Zealand and Australia with the ozone layers the way they are. If they're monitored properly it's safer in some ways," Farmer said.

"Some sun is actually good for you, you've got to get some vitamin D, especially through winter, and we have people with psoriasis who come in and need it."

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Associate Health Minister Jo Goodhew said that if passed, the bill would stop the harm caused to people under 18 years of age by tanning machines.

"There is clear international evidence that UV tanning devices, including sunbeds, significantly increase the risk of skin cancers among users and that younger people are at higher risk," she said.

- Manawatu Standard

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