The State Government is introducing tough new laws banning commercial ultraviolet (UV) solaria tanning units in NSW. The ban will come into effect from December 31, 2014, to give the industry time to adapt. It is estimated that 103 solariums in NSW will be affected.
The Environment Minister, Robyn Parker, who announced the ban on World Cancer Day (February 4th), said there was mounting evidence that the use of sunbeds was associated with an increased risk of melanoma at any age. “Solaria use is associated with a range of skin cancers, including melanoma, which is the most life threatening form of skin cancer and the most common form of skin cancer among 15 to 39-year-olds,” Ms Parker said.
“The International Agency for research on Cancer has increased the classification for solaria to ‘carcinogenic to humans’ and this places solaria in the same category of risk of harm to humans as asbestos.
“Sadly, Australia has the highest incidence of skin cancer in the world and this ban is long overdue… The health risks associated with the use of tanning units are becoming increasingly well known, with increasing scientific research confirming a direct link between the use of tanning units and the increased early on-set of melanoma… The announcement is in direct response to that research and its aim is to actively reduce the amount of skin cancers and melanoma’s diagnosed in NSW each year."
According to the Minister, the Environment Protection Agency (EPA) will continue to ensure that the solaria industry is meeting its regulatory requirements until the ban is enforced and will be conducting audits of premises that own commercial tanning units to ensure that they are complying with current regulations. The government will look at ways to support the industry by helping with the safe disposal of tanning units and by assisting the industry reposition and diversify their businesses.
Ms Parker said the ban had the strong backing of the Melanoma Institute, Cancer Institute NSW, NSW Health, the Cancer Council, NSW Radiation Advisory Council, and the Medical Oncology Group of Australia, the peak representative body for cancer specialists in Australia.
Chief cancer officer and CEO of the Cancer Institute NSW, Professor David Currow, says the NSW Government had an important responsibility in reducing the risk of cancer in the community. “This legislation sends a clear message to people across NSW – there is no safe level of solaria use to get a tan, for anyone, under any circumstances. Melanoma is a particularly aggressive form of skin cancer, which is associated with solaria use,” Professor Currow said.
Jay Allen, a melanoma survivor and founder of SunbedBan.com, has been campaigning for the past four years for a ban on sunbeds in NSW. “My surgeon is adamant that my sunbed use contributed to my stage 3 melanoma diagnosis in February 2008 and to finally see a total ban means so much. I believe it will help save the lives of people years ahead,” Mr Allen said.
For more information about Solaria Regulation in NSW visit www.environment.nsw.gov.au/radiation/solaria.htm