New campaign warns of the dangers of solarium use

Monday 12 November, 2007


With new regulations for solariums to come into effect soon, Victorians will be warned about the dangers of using solariums with the launch of a campaign by Health Minister, Daniel Andrews.

The campaign, a joint initiative of the Brumby Government and The Cancer Council Victoria's SunSmart program, was launched at the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, where 26 year old Clare Oliver was treated for melanoma. Ms Oliver, who died in September, attributed her melanoma largely to her previous solarium use.

The Solariums - Fashion to Die For campaign is designed to appeal to the fashion conscious, and to make people aware of the increased risk of skin cancer from using solariums. The campaign materials will be distributed to beauty salons, fitness and sport centres, pharmacies, community health centres, GPs, tertiary institutions and secondary schools.

Director of the Cancer Council's Cancer Education Unit, Craig Sinclair, says given the recent growth of solariums in Melbourne, and the industry's inability to self regulate, legislation has become necessary.

"The proliferation of solariums across Victoria without any controls has become a serious public health issue.

"Up until now, the solarium industry has operated under a voluntary code of conduct, with no penalties for breaches."

"The Cancer Council is delighted that Victoria will become the first state to regulate the solarium industry. Solariums are dangerous and increase the risk of skin cancer. People who are thinking about using them need to be aware of these risks."

"These new regulations will help save lives. Solariums can emit ultraviolet rays up to five times stronger than the midday summer sun. "

Health Minister Daniel Andrews said the new regulations will be made by the end of 2007, under the Radiation Act.

"These new regulations will require solaria operators to be licensed with the Department of Human Services, and solariums will need to display health warnings."

"The regulations will also make it illegal for anyone under the age of 16 to use a solarium; and will ensure anyone between 16 and 18 years of age can only use solaria with informed parental consent."

Mr Sinclair said Clare Oliver's story has had a huge impact in raising awareness of the dangers of solariums and UV exposure.

"Clare's story has touched many people, and we hope her family and friends can take some comfort in the knowledge that her willingness to make her story public will have a lasting legacy. Thanks to her, and to this new campaign, we hope people will know the risks and decide against using solariums."

"The message is simple - using a solarium for even a small amount of time can increase your chances of developing skin cancer."

Associate Professor Grant McArthur, a medical oncologist at Melbourne's Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, who treated Clare Oliver, said he hoped the new campaign would encourage anyone who might consider using solariums to reconsider.

"A tan is not worth dying for, and that was Clare's very clear message."

"I strongly urge anyone who is thinking of using a solarium in the lead up to summer to remember Clare's warning. The simple fact is that people who use solariums are increasing their risk of skin cancer, and skin cancer can be deadly."

At today's launch, two former solarium users who feature in the campaign urged others to consider the consequences of using solariums.

31 year old Saffron Styles said she never expected that using a solarium might give her a melanoma as well as a tan.

"I've used solariums on and off since I was 18. Sometimes I'd go for a while without using one at all, then I might have 2 sessions a week for a few months," she said.

"Earlier this year I noticed a spot that looked like a blood blister, which turned out to be a melanoma."

"Now I knows the risks, solariums are off limits - my life is much more important than a tan."

26 year old Kate McCammond says she is 100 per cent confident that her melanoma was caused by using solariums.

"I developed a melanoma on my bottom, and I have never sunbaked naked or even in a g-string."

"It took two rounds of surgery to remove it all, and I had about 30 stiches in my bum," Kate says.

"I would never use a solarium again and I warn all my friends not to. If my story stops one person from using a solarium then my job's done," she said.