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Medical community joins together to call for solarium ban in Victoria

Thursday 13 September, 2012

161 medical professionals sign letter of support for a solarium ban in Victoria

Today on the five year anniversary of anti-solarium campaigner Clare Oliver’s death, 161 cancer specialists and health professionals of the Victorian Co-operative Oncology Group have joined together to call on the Victorian government to follow the lead of New South Wales (NSW) and ban solariums.

Clare visited a solarium about 20 times in her early 20s and believed that these visits contributed to her diagnosis. Clare pioneered the campaign against sunbeds, determined to use her tragic story of skin cancer, and of a life lost far too early, to help others avoid the same fate.

Chair of the Victorian Co-operative Oncology Group (VCOG) Skin Cancer Committee, Mr Simon Donahoe, commented on the strong backing from the medical community supporting a solarium ban.

“A new review of research shows that using a sun bed before you are 35 boosts your risk of melanoma by 87% (previously thought to be 75%). This adds to existing evidence showing that solariums are dangerous, and irrefutably linked to cancer.

“The medical community know the serious implications that skin cancer has on its victims and their families who face an uncertain future, painful treatments, high costs, and unimaginable stress. A solarium ban can protect Victorians and help to reduce melanoma incidence in this state.”

Todd Harper, Cancer Council Victoria CEO, said: “Clare brought about great change by telling her story, which resulted in the industry being regulated, but more needs to be done.”

“Five years later, her message to young women that no tan is worth dying for remains sadly relevant. In fact, if current regulations existed 10 years ago, Clare would still have been able to visit solariums.”

“Unfortunately Clare’s story is not an isolated case and with melanomas generally developing over time with a lag of 10 to 30 years, we will be seeing a lot more stories like Clare’s surfacing over the next few years. This problem will continue to grow unless we act now to enforce a ban.”

Mr Harper said there's no place for solariums in society.

“Now that NSW has announced a ban and with Queensland’s health minister giving it serious consideration, it is the time for Victoria to take action. Unfortunately for some, like Clare Oliver, it is already too late.” 

Additional figures:

  • Prior to the regulations coming into effect on Feb 1st 2008, there were approx. 436 sites in Victoria operating 1021 tanning units. There has been a reduction of 55% in the number of tanning units, since the regulations came in to effect. The number of sites has decreased even more dramatically by 67%.
  • Almost 200 of the 436 sites with a tanning unit closed in the first year after the introduction of legislation, but only 100 further sites have closed in the 3 years since then.
  • According to the Environment Protection Authority, there are currently 77 solaria businesses in New South Wales with a total of 215 tanning units compared to 133 businesses possessing a total of 447 tanning units in Victoria.

The facts:

  • An estimated one in six melanomas in young Australians aged 18-29 could be prevented if solariums were shut down.
  • It has been estimated that each year in Australia, 281 new melanoma cases, 43 melanoma-related deaths, and 2,572 new cases of squamous cell carcinoma are attributable to solarium use, at a cost to the health system of around $3 million.