Call to ban solariums in Victoria

Wednesday 26 September, 2012

You know you've made an impact when you make it into the Top News Arab Emirates – VCOG did just that!

Solariums: dangerous, unnecessary, out-dated and irrefutably linked to cancer

Promptly responding to an email from Cancer Council Victoria CEO Todd Harper, 161 VCOG cancer specialists and health professionals joined together to call on the Victorian government to follow the lead of New South Wales (NSW) and ban solariums in Victoria and work towards implementing a ban on a national level.

Co-signed by the Chair of VCOG Skin Cancer Committee, Mr Simon Donahoe and Acting Chair VCOG Executive Committee Miss Orla McNally, a letter including the VCOG member endorsements has been sent to the State Premier, Minister for Health David Davis and all State MPs outlining why solariums need to be banned.

The solarium industry in Victoria has been regulated since 2008 following Clare Oliver's campaign (No Tan is Worth Dying For), which highlighted the dangers of solarium use. Her plight resulted in new legislation and regulation from government, but more needs to be done to end the unnecessary loss of lives.

In early 2012 the NSW government became the first in the country to announce a solarium ban. Four hundred and fifty eight tanning beds still operate in Victoria, more than twice as many as NSW.

On Thursday 13th September a media event organised by SunSmart, Cancer Council Victoria and Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre took place to raise media awareness and to commemorate five years since Clare Oliver's passing and her tragic story of skin cancer.

Professor Michael Henderson, Chair of the Melanoma and Skin Cancer Service at Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre shared new research supporting calls for an outright solarium ban in Victoria and Jay Allen spoke about his own experience of melanoma and his advocacy efforts to work towards a national ban on solariums in Australia.

Media Event Photo, Todd, Simon, Jay and Michael The campaign generated significant media attention. TV coverage included Channel 10 Breakfast news and Sky News as well as print media reports in the Age, mX, regional newspapers, and Body and Soul. The call to ban tanning beds also featured prominently on radio: 3AW news, Mornings and Drive programs, Fox News, Radio Sports National News, ABC 774 Melbourne, Nova 100.3, Gold FM 104.3, SEN (Melbourne) and ABC News.

It was also a fantastic week for the SunSmart team who secured $1 million for a social marketing campaign this summer and were re-designated as a WHO Collaborating Centre for UV Radiation for a further four years.

Why solariums need to be banned:

  • New review of research shows that using a sun bed before the age of 35 boosts melanoma risk by 87%.
  • Studies also show the melanoma risk increases with every sunbed session.
  • Current regulations aren't being adhered to. A Cancer Council study in 2009 found that 80% of solarium operators surveyed allowed access to teenagers who concealed their age or claimed to be 18, despite the ban on people under 18 years of age using solariums.
  • Sunbeds emit ultraviolet (UV) radiation levels three times as strong as the midday sun, with some sunbeds up to six times stronger. This is equivalent to a UV Index of 48 (generally the highest UV Index level in Victoria is 12).
  • One in six melanomas in Australians aged 18 to 29 years could be prevented if solariums were shut down.
  • It's 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.
  • In Victoria, 51 new melanomas, 7 melanoma-related deaths and 294 new cases of squamous cell carcinoma are attributed to solarium use.

The evidence is clear: Solariums are dangerous, unnecessary, outdated and irrefutably linked to cancer.

We'll keep you updated on our ongoing advocacy work on this issue.


References:

  • Latest figures from the Department of Health.
  • A systematic review and meta-analysis was conducted in 2012 to estimate the burden of melanoma resulting from sunbed use. Boniol M, Autier P, Boyle P, Gandini S. Cutaneous melanoma attributable to sunbed use: systematic review and meta-analysis. BMJ 2012; 345