Council urged on sunbed purge

Alarming rates of melanoma, particularly among mothers with young children, have prompted Palmerston North dermatologist Louise Reiche to call for a ban on sunbeds.

Reiche said three-quarters of melanomas in people aged 18 to 29 could be blamed on sunbed use.

She was seeing too many young women with multiple melanomas, including some growing around the genital area and other places not usually exposed to the sun.

The impact on those women's futures, on their families and on the city was a great concern, she told the city council's planning and policy committee meeting yesterday.

She has challenged the city council to consider a bylaw to ban the use of sunbeds altogether.

Failing that, she wanted the council to follow the Auckland Council's lead in having a health bylaw that banned people aged under 18 from using them.

Reiche said scientific literature showed anyone who used a sunbed before the age of 35 increased their chances of developing melanoma 75-fold.

She said the younger people got hooked on using sunbeds, the more likely they were to become "tanoholics" and indulge in other harmful, addictive behaviours.

Action by the city council would be an appropriate follow-up to the health protection work it had already done providing trees and sunshades for shelter at the Lido Aquatic Centre and at sports tracks.

Reiche said it was important the council act promptly rather than wait to see what happened to the Health Protection Amendment Bill, which would bring in a ban on commercial artificial UV tanning services to people under 18.

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It was introduced to Parliament in August and is open for public submissions until February.

"As a practitioner, I believe six months could make a difference. Taking action sooner rather than later could be saving lives."

The committee agreed to make a submission on the bill, asking for its proposed provisions to be extended to a total ban.

Failing that, the committee wanted the law to require registration of all sunbed operators, and be backed up by a wider range of enforcement tools.

It has also asked for a report on its own health bylaw to control or ban the use of all UV tanning devices.

Palmerston North's Pure Beauty Therapy acting manager Haylee Briggs said the salon had recently got rid of its sunbed.

"We knew with the different laws coming into place, it would probably be harder to have it," she said.

"Some regulars were a bit disappointed but we kind of knew [new laws] were coming."

Briggs said the salon had already restricted under 18s using the sunbed, unless they had parental consent.

She said she would fully support any bylaw restricting sunbed use.

"I fully agree no under 18s should be using it," she said.

"It definitely should be the standard."

Sunbeds should still be available to adults over 18 who were able to make an informed and responsible decision, Briggs said.

 

 - Manawatu Standard

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