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New solarium regulations welcome, but many still ignorant of risk

Friday 1 February, 2008

As Victoria becomes the first state to crack down on the solarium industry with regulations to take effect from this Friday, new research has found that some Victorians are still ignorant about the risks of solarium use.

Research conducted by The Cancer Council Victoria in December last year found that 14% of women aged 18-30 believed that tanning in a solarium was safer than tanning at the beach.

The research also found that 29% of women surveyed had used a solarium at some time, with 1 in 10 intending to use a solarium in the next 12 months.

Kylie Strong from the Cancer Council's SunSmart program says it's alarming that young women are still not heeding the warnings, despite significant media coverage highlighting the dangers of solariums over the past six months

"A solarium tan is not ‘safer' than tanning in the sun. In fact, there is no such thing as a ‘safe' tan. Any exposure to UV rays, whether from a solarium or the sun, can cause skin cancer."

"Solariums emit UV radiation that can be up to five times as strong as the midday summer sun."

Results of a recent Australian study showed an alarming link between solarium use and melanoma risk - researchers at the Queensland Institute of Medical Research found that using a solarium before the age of 35 can increase the risk of melanoma by a massive 98%.

"Solariums are dangerous and threaten the lives of people who use them - it's as simple as that," Ms Strong said.

Ms Strong said the Cancer Council welcomes the new regulations, under which solarium operators must be licensed, and display health warnings. Those under the age of 16 will be banned from using a solarium and those aged 16 and 17 must have parental consent. Unsupervised solariums will be banned, and people with fair skin that burns not tans should be refused access. Solarium operators who break the new laws could face substantial fines.

"Ultimately we'd like to see a total ban for young people under the age of 18, as recommended by the World Health Organisation," Ms Strong said.

"We hope these penalties will encourage the solarium industry to act responsibly, particularly in relation to refusing access to young people and those with fair skin. Solarium use increases the risk of skin cancer, so it's absolutely essential that young people are banned from using them, and that adults properly understand the risks."

"We also hope the Government is vigilant in monitoring compliance with the new laws, and acts swiftly to prosecute operators who breach these new regulations."

"However, we would also encourage any Victorian who is thinking about using a solarium to consider if it's worth risking their life for the sake of a tan."

Information about the dangers of solarium use can be found at www.sunsmart.com.au.
Information about the new regulations can be found at www.health.vic.gov.au/environment/radiation/solarium.