Law penalises sensible users, operator says

Hairhunters Hiz & Herz Salon owner Carol Uren, of Dunedin, opens a salon sunbed yesterday, which...
Hairhunters Hiz & Herz Salon owner Carol Uren, of Dunedin, opens a salon sunbed yesterday, which could soon have an age-use restriction. Photo by Stephen Jaquiery.

A sunbed age restriction proposed by the Government is penalising responsible users, a Dunedin salon owner says.

The Health (Protection) Amendment Bill was introduced to Parliament on Thursday to amend the Health Act to make it illegal to allow people under 18 years to use sunbeds.

Hairhunters Hiz & Herz Salon owner Carol Uren said the Government was stopping the responsible users, who had ''small bursts'' on sunbeds.

Associate Health Minister Jo Goodhew said if the Bill was passed, it would stop the harm caused to people under 18 by artificial 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.''

Mrs Goodhew said there were sunbed age restrictions in South Australia, the United Kingdom, Germany and California.

Mrs Uren said a few of the clients who used the sunbeds in her George St salon were high school pupils.

The sessions were usually paid for by their mothers and were before a special event.

''People would come in for six or seven sessions before they had their school formals and they would have a small burst on the sunbeds to tan up.''

More males used the sunbed in her salon than females, she said.

Mrs Uren said she monitored the time her clients spent on sunbeds and most clients used them to get a ''base colour'' to prepare for summer.

She found sunbed sessions beneficial because it made the skin less sensitive when exposed to sunshine.

''With my skin, if I don't have a sunbed two or three times before we go to some other hot climate, then I've got to hide away for a week and can't go out in the sun.''

She promoted moderation to her clients and declined the custom of ''sunbed freaks''.

She had had a sunbed in her salon for the past 18 years and bought her latest one about seven years ago, for about $15,000.

For several years, in the lead-up to summer, students were lying in the sunbed for most of the salon's opening hours.

But due to the negative publicity on sunbeds in the past two years, the client base had reduced to about six clients a month.

When the $2000 of sunbed bulbs needed replacing, she would consider shutting down the sunbed side of the business and leasing the space to a nail technician.

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