ACT News

License article

Solarium operators warn on total ban

Commercial solarium operators believe the blanket ban on sunbeds will lead to a rise in dangerous backyard operators in the ACT, with many people buying artificial ultraviolet light lamps from online classified sites.

''They're not outlawing anything. People will just start buying and setting up sunbeds in their houses,'' said one Canberra solarium operator after the announcement on Thursday that the ACT government will ban all commercial solariums in the territory from 2015.

''They will be in homes, just like microwaves and treadmills are these days. They won't be monitored, there will be no standards."

Despite the industry becoming regulated and all four local businesses adhering to the guidelines in 2010, Health Minister Katy Gallagher said persistent lobbying from the Cancer Council and the Australian Medical Association prompted the outright ban.

Similar legislation taking place in New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia also encouraged the ACT government to follow suit.

''I think Victoria and NSW have indicated they'll be moving to ban solaria and I think it makes sense for us to move in line with them on the same timetable,'' Ms Gallagher said.


''With the evidence, it is very clear that solaria poses a pretty significant risk to one's health.

''The evidence I've seen, the discussions I've had with the Chief Health Officer is very clear that, particularly people of fair skin type - and we have changed the laws around that so people with fair skin type can't use them - but it significantly increases the risk of skin cancer.''

In 2010, the ACT government banned people with fair skin and under the age of 18 from using sunbeds. The four businesses, one of which has been operating for more than 16 years, welcomed the costly reforms but were told by officials then that an all-out ban would not be implemented.

''The industry needed to be regulated back then to get rid of the cowboys,'' said one operator who wished to remain anonymous.

''After spending thousands of dollars to meet the new standards, I was told that that would be it.

''We assumed that they would ban any new tanning venues opening up but not this. This will force a number of businesses to close.''

Another business owner said: ''There goes my livelihood. I've got 18 months to figure out how to make a living and support my family and that isn't enough time to do that. I invested my super into my business - this was my retirement plan. I then went into debt to meet the regulations.''

Ms Gallagher said the four remaining commercial solariums in the ACT were in gyms and beauty salons that were ''doing a lot of other functions already''.

The two business owners Fairfax Media spoke with said sunbeds were their only source of income.

''The majority of my clients, and I've had around more than 1000 customers over the years, use the lamps because they are lacking in vitamin D or to treat skin conditions like acne and psoriasis,'' one said. ''Not one of them has had a melanoma and I perform rigorous skin testing.''

Ms Gallagher said the businesses would not be liable for compensation but consultation regarding the implementation aspects of the ban has started.

Research published in BMJ (British Medical Journal) last year stated the risk of melanoma increased by 20 per cent for those who have used indoor tanning beds.


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