Proposed law would restrict sunbed use

A proposed bill that could ban teenagers and fair-skinned adults from using sunbeds has received support from the Cancer Society and the national Dermatologists body.

National MP Paul Hutchison's Health (Skin Cancer and Trauma Prevention) Amendment Bill would see enforced regulations on sunbeds and cosmetic lasers to prevent avoidable harm from ultraviolet radiation.

It also calls on premises with sunbeds to be licensed and regulated.

The New Zealand Dermatological Society Incorporated (NZDSi) supported the bill, which would "provide greater consumer protection minimising potential and actual harm in their use", said a statement.

About 300 New Zealanders die each year from malignant melanoma, and UV light from sunbeds is nearly three times as harmful as sun radiation, said the Cancer Society.

Sunbeds have been banned in New South Wales, and South Australia will ban them by 2015.

New Zealand has the highest incidence of melanoma in the world. In 2009 there was a total of 2212 melanoma registrations and 326 deaths.

The current voluntary standards for using sunbeds include client consent, no use for under 18-year-olds and exclusion of people with pale skin who always burn.

Surveys by Consumer New Zealand of sunbed operators has shown there is a high level of non-compliance.

A Consumer NZ mystery shopper sunbed survey, published in September, found many sunbed operators were not complying with the voluntary standards.

In the survey of 30 clinics in Auckland and Wellington, just three turned away a person with very fair skin.

Dr Hutchison said the proposed bill was a timely reminder that New Zealanders need to do something to reduce the statistic of having the highest incidence of melanoma in the world.

"Sunbed use is widely associated with an increased risk of early onset melanoma."

"It's also associated with skin burns, premature aging, corneal burns, cataracts, ocular melanoma, and photodermatitis," said Dr Hutchison.

Cancer Society's health promotion manager Dr Jan Pearson supported the move to protect youth from exposure to UVR while using sunbeds.

She said licensing and regulating the providers would give consumers some assurance that the service they are paying for has some safeguards.

There is no guarantee Dr Hutchison's bill will be drawn from the ballot.

 

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