Solariums Ban

Written on the 14 November 2012

Ms HARTLAND (Western Metropolitan) -- I move:


That this house --
(a) notes the statement released by Cancer Council Victoria and signed by 161 cancer specialists and clinicians of the Victorian Cooperative Oncology Group calling for the ban of solariums; and
(b) calls on the Baillieu government to introduce legislation to ban solariums and the private sale of sunbeds.


Australia has one of the highest rates of skin cancer in the world, with two in three Australians developing skin cancer by the time they are 70 years old.


This unenviable status is made worse by the fact that until recently state governments across Australia have continued to permit the use of sunbeds.


The International Agency for Research on Cancer has now classified tanning beds that emit ultraviolet radiation (UVR) as a grade 1 carcinogen -- the highest risk category. One in six melanomas in Australians aged 18 to 29 could be prevented if solariums were shut down. In 2008, following the campaign by Clare Oliver, 'No Tan is Worth Dying For', the Victorian government, along with other state governments, regulated the safer use of tanning units.


These regulations prohibit under-18s and people with sensitive skin from using commercial sunbeds. This is a step forward, but it does not go far enough. A Cancer Council Victoria study in 2009 found that, despite the ban on people under the age of 18 using solariums, 80 per cent of solarium operators surveyed allowed access to teenagers who concealed their age or claimed to be 18.


This research indicates that these age restrictions are largely ineffective. Further, according to a recent expert review of the evidence, solarium use by people under the age of 35 increased an individual's risk of melanoma by 87 per cent. The risk of cancer to all sunbed users, not just those under 18 years of age, is too high. Current regulations are inadequate. We need to take the next step and introduce a total ban on solariums.


Earlier this year the New South Wales government announced plans to ban commercial solariums, and in October South Australia banned the commercial use of sunbeds. These bans will commence from 31 December, 2014, in both states and will save lives. The need for such a ban is even greater in Victoria, where 458 sunbeds still operate -- more than twice as many as in NSW which just regulated to ban them altogether. These bans are the only responsible way to manage the significant risk the use of sunbeds poses to public health.


Unfortunately banning solariums is not enough. Many sunbeds are making their way onto the internet and are being sold on websites like eBay and Gumtree to private users. The unregulated use of sunbeds in homes poses a significant health threat. As well as banning commercial solariums we must ban the sale of sunbeds as part of a comprehensive solution to this clear cancer threat.


I urge the government to take action to prevent cancer and save lives by banning solariums and sunbeds. I give the government six months to introduce a bill prohibiting commercial solariums and the private sale of sunbeds. If it fails to do so, I will introduce a bill in 2013. The risk posed by tanning in sunbeds is too great. There are safer alternatives. Victoria urgently needs to act to save lives.


Ms CROZIER (Southern Metropolitan) -- I am pleased to rise to speak to Ms Hartland's motion. I think this motion is worthy and its sentiment good.


As I said in my previous contribution, Ms Hartland is very concerned about health-related issues, and this is one that she has raised and has spoken on with passion. I think her sentiment in relation to this motion should be commended.


I would like to make just a few comments in relation to the use of solariums and tanning units. Ms Hartland outlined some statistics and figures in relation to those devices. There are a number of states -- New South Wales and South Australia -- which, I understand, have announced a ban on solariums. New South Wales intends to have a ban in place by the end of 2014. Victoria, Queensland, Western Australia, the Northern Territory and the Australian Capital Territory have regulations that require solariums to be licensed and to comply with certain requirements. The Draft Skin Cancer Prevention Framework outlines what those requirements include. This framework, which I want to speak to in more detail, states that operators of a commercial tanning unit must ensure that:

  • any person under the age of 18 years is not allowed to use a solarium;
  • any person with skin type 1 is not allowed to use a solarium;
  • every client has a skin type assessment conducted prior to using a solarium;
  • every client signs the prescribed consent form prior to using a solarium;
  • proof of age documents are sighted prior to a client signing a consent form; and
  • mandatory health warnings are displayed.


Ms Hartland made mention of how Victoria took a leading role -- which I think was in 2008 -- in adopting Australia's first regulation and licensing of tanning beds. I commend the former government on taking that leading role in this important area; it was a very important move. Ms Hartland highlighted the campaign by Clare Oliver based on her sad story of melanoma and experience with tanning beds. I certainly recall that story on 60 Minutes, which documented her sad situation. It was very moving at the time, and it does not seem that five years have passed since she died. Clare championed the cause and highlighted the dramatic effects of melanoma and sunbeds.


I think all Victorians and Australians felt for her at the time.


I make note of an adjournment matter that Mrs Coote raised with the Minister for Health a few months ago in this place in which she talked about Clare Oliver's campaign and suntanning devices and facilities across the region that she and I and the Minister for Health, Mr Davis, represent. She spoke about the framework that has been put together and about the response to the framework. In her adjournment matter she said:


I am pleased that Minister Davis has put out a draft skin cancer prevention framework, which is in the public domain until 30 September for people to comment upon. I hope many people comment on the draft.



The minister's response was:

The Victorian government has sought comment with respect to the recently released Draft Skin Cancer Prevention Framework 2012-16 to help shape skin cancer prevention in Victoria over the next five years and beyond.



I can confirm that one of the priorities in the draft framework is to examine Victoria's future options for the regulation of solaria, with the options ranging from the strengthening of the regulatory approach through to a total ban on solariums.
The consultation period on the framework closed on 30 September 2012 and the government will now be examining the submissions that have been put to it before finalising our position on this important issue.



I think the minister does understand this issue. I am not sure whether Labor or the Greens made a submission to the draft framework.


It is a very comprehensive document. It outlines a plan and the concerns of Cancer Council Victoria. Obviously we have a lot of awareness about the health impacts of vitamin D deficiency and the balance required between appropriate levels of vitamin D and overexposure to ultraviolet radiation (UVR). As we are all well aware, Australia has the world's highest rate of skin cancer. This framework states:

  • Australia has the highest age-standardised incidence of melanoma in the world ...
  • It is the most common form of cancer, with two in three Australians being diagnosed with the disease before the age of 70 ...
It goes on to say:
  • Victoria is a leader in skin cancer prevention, achieved through world-class research, the innovation of the internationally recognised SunSmart program, and policy and legislation such as the solarium regulations introduced in 2007.


We can, as a state, be very proud of the lead we have taken in areas of public health interest. This framework that has been put together under the minister outlines those concerns. It talks of this issue. It is very comprehensive, as I said. I understand that over 200 submissions were provided to the framework. I think that is a significant endorsement of the many interested persons who wanted to have a say on this issue. I think the framework goes a long way to looking at all these issues relating to skin cancer and solarium use.


I want to go back to the framework in relation to the particular area of solarium regulation and its contribution to UVR protection.
Page 20 of the draft framework says:


In 2009, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) classified UVR-emitting tanning devices as 'carcinogenic to humans'. IARC advises that combined analysis of more than 20 epidemiological studies shows that the risk of cutaneous melanoma is increased by 75 per cent when the use of tanning devices starts before age 30 ...



Those are significant effects -- there is no doubt about that -- and this framework highlights that. As I said, the role that the previous government played in looking at this issue and adopting Australia's first regulations should be commended. Those regulations and reforms have led to a reduction of approximately 53 per cent in the number of commercial tanning units in the state and have had a significant impact on reducing hazardous UVR exposure to the most at-risk groups.


A significant amount of work is being done. As the minister has said, he takes this issue very seriously. It is a serious public health concern, particularly in terms of young people who might be attracted to using a solarium to get an instant tan -- or a tan that comes more quickly than one that results from being exposed to normal sunlight -- but who may not be fully aware of the major health risks and the high incidence of melanomas that such solarium devices cause.


With those words, I put on the record that I agree with the sentiment expressed in Ms Hartland's motion. She has raised a very important issue. I am pleased that the framework is out there and that so many Victorians put in submissions on it. I look forward to the response in due course.

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