Public Health South and the Ministry of Health are trying to raise awareness of a law that will make it illegal for anyone under the age of 18 to use sunbeds.
Public Health South has been working with sunbed operators in Invercargill, Queenstown and Dunedin to explain compliance regulations that came into effect in the middle of last year.
Marion Poore, the Southern District Health Board medical director women's, children's and public health, said it was in the interest of public health that operators were aware of current and potential new standards.
"A health protection officer from Public Health South visited 15 solaria operators in Southland and Otago to gather information, provide information on the amendment to the act and raise awareness regarding best practice requirements," Dr Poore said.
She said the visits helped dispel any confusion in the industry around legal status and compliance with the standards, which are voluntary.
"Most of the operators were aware that there was some technical guidance available, but were unsure of their responsibilities as operators and how to voluntarily meet guidelines."
The Ministry of Health is working on amending the Health Act 1956 to prohibit access to commercial sunbeds for people under 18 years of age.
Associate Health Minister Jo Goodhew said the intention behind the amendment was part of the Government's commitment to reduce the rates of skin cancer in New Zealand.
"The World Health Organisation reports the risk of skin cancer, particularly melanoma, increases by 75 per cent when sunbeds are used prior to age 30," Ms Goodhew said.
"Introducing an age restriction for commercial sunbeds is one of five key areas the Government is investing in to help prevent New Zealanders getting skin cancer, and to provide faster treatment for people with melanoma."
According to Ms Goodhew, New Zealand and Australia have the highest melanoma incidence rates in the world.
- The Southland Times
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