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Outright ban on sunbeds needed

Consumer NZ and the Cancer Society are calling for an outright ban on commercial sunbeds.

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Although both organisations support amendments to the Health (Protection) Amendment Bill banning the provision of sunbed services to under-18s, they argue the ban does not go far enough.

Chief executive Sue Chetwin says Consumer has been surveying sunbed businesses for over a decade and the results have been alarming.

“Our mystery shopper surveys in 2010, 2011 and 2012 found many operators ignoring – or unaware of – the safety guidelines of the voluntary standard (AS/NZ 2635:2008). In our 2013 survey, two-thirds of sunbed operators did not comply with the standard,” she said.

The proposed amendments to the Health (Protection) Amendment Bill will only protect under-18s but the rest of the population will still be at risk.

Ms Chetwin said the evidence linking tanning devices to skin cancer was unequivocal. In July 2009, the World Health Organisation’s International Agency for Research on Cancer classified tanning devices as “carcinogenic to humans” and in the highest cancer risk category, alongside substances such as tobacco, asbestos and arsenic.

Claire Austin, Chief Executive of the Cancer Society said New Zealand has the highest skin cancer rate in the world.

“Skin cancer, our most common cancer, comes at a cost of over $123 million to our health system each year. Yet over 90% of skin cancers are preventable. We need to be doing as much as we can to ensure fewer New Zealanders are affected by the burden. Banning sunbeds is a good step.”

Chetwin says Brazil and most states in Australia have introduced bans on commercial solariums in an attempt to reduce rates of skin cancer. Consumer and the Cancer Society think New Zealand should follow suit.

The risks involved in continuing to allow New Zealanders to tan this way are just too great, Ms Chetwin said.

Consumer NZ and the Cancer Society are presenting their submissions on the Health (Protection) Amendment Bill at a select committee hearing today.

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