MelNet online has joined with other key organisations in a call for tighter controls of sun beds in New Zealand, initially arguing for regulation of the indoor tanning industry.
At its annual general meeting on 6 February 2017, MelNet members unanimously agreed that sun beds should be banned, to the not-so-surprising agreement of the New Zealand Government.
Despite the ever-increasing evidence of harm caused by sun beds, New Zealand has no nation-wide regulations governing sun bed use, unlike many other countries who have banned the practise all together.
More than 15 salons through out Auckland’s CBD hold a sun bed open to public users of any age. This ranges from salons, beauty boutiques, gyms and even wholesale sun bed retailers.
The Health Protection Amendment Bill was approved by the New Zealand Parliament this week, making sun beds R18. The bill is due to take effect in early 2017.
Finesse Fitness, a women’s gym located in Christchurch, has been reprimanded by one of their own interns after stating their sun beds are UV safe.
Although, the woman’s gym has refused to comment, their site claims to only hold safe UV bulbs that have a less damaging effect on the skin.
Advertising business intern at Finesse Fitness, Martha Grey, stated that no research went into the beds before buying them.
“They are just normal sun beds. We’ve had loads of questions about them but the owner is refusing to talk about the claim that they’re safe. I’ve been in charge of their advertisement and it's all very vague.”
Grey also commented that the clients lack of knowledge of potential risks are the biggest worry. And says that even with the ban, she doubts the sun beds will be removed from the premises.
“Clients ask about them and I have no idea. Here they just expect you to know about everything without teaching you. This ban is going to cause a lot of hassle for us in the quiet months, but it's probably worth us losing a couple of hundred a week rather than allowing people to bake themselves."
Medical assistant at Henderson Medical Centre, Blake Hendricks, assures that although UVA rays penetrate more deeply than UVB rays, both cause damage to the skin.
“Tanning beds work by creating an artificial source of ultraviolet light, which is present in two forms: ultraviolet-A or Ultraviolet-B light.”
Hendricks commented that the melanoma rate in New Zealand shows no sign of slowing down as we approach our next summer.
“For a place to offer free tanning beds with membership isn’t great for New Zealand’s already high skin cancer rates. No matter how much they try and say it's safe or fine they don’t really know the long term effects of prolonged UV exposure. The ban will do a lot of people some good, and retailers will just have to work around it."
Grey stated that during the winter months, a large percentage of their revenue comes from the use of sun beds.
“The profit gained from these beds is definitely not slowing down. We make around $400+ a week from women wanting to use these beds. To have them banned would cause a financial struggle for us around June-July.”
The ban is set to take place early 2017, and just over 15 business in Auckland city alone will be affected by the ban.
The strength of UV rays from sunbeds can be up to 10-15 times higher than that of the midday sun.