With the Cancer Council in Australia estimating that off all new cancer cases being reports, over 80% account for skin cancer, public health officials in several Australian states are in the process of banning the use of indoor skin tanning bed. The latest initiative is in the state of Victoria where lawmakers banned tanning devices effective end-2014. With Victoria's action, five of the eight Australian states and territories have now banned the use of tanning salons and devices.
The public health action against tanning devices began in 2009, when the World Health Organization (WHO) classified tanning beds as a Class I carcinogen, its effect as equalling cigarette smoking, harmful chemicals or X-ray radiation.
Following, WHO advisory, some countries banned the device, the first of them being Brazil. In the U.S. health officials placed warning about cancer risks on tanning bed, and certain states ban their use by children under the age of 18.
"The clear weight of medical evidence supports a ban," said Victoria's Health Minister David Davis,
Supporting the need for the ban is a new report which estimates that 1 in 6 melanomas among Australians in the age group of 18 to 29 could be prevented by closing down all tanning salons.
A report in the Wall Street Journal says indoor tanning in Australia gained popularity, particularly among people under the age of 30, between end-1990s and early 2000s. Its usage grew despite Australia being one of the world's sunniest countries.
Melbourne, Victoria's capital and Australia's second-largest city saw the number of tanning salons increase by 600 per cent in last decade. Since 2008, however, following government prohibition on young people using these devices, and medical studies highlighting the link which tanning devices had with skin cancer and other health concerns like premature aging and damage to eyes; the number of tanning salons saw a drastic fall by 67 per cent.
With Victoria's decision, the total of five of Australia's eight states and territories have decided to completely outlaw tanning beds by 2015.
Victoria's move has, however, sparked a backlash from tanning business owners.
"It's a lot safer than going out in the sun. In a solarium, people aren't getting sunburned, they're in a controlled environment where they can control how much UV they get," said Paul Cannon, who owns a tanning business, Body Bronze, in the suburb of Port Melbourne.
Authorities now fearing, that like in New South Wales, salon owners will now resort to sell tanning beds to the public at highly discounted prices.
"This creates the dangerous situation where any person can buy a powerful tanning bed and operate it at home with no supervision or know how," Colleen Hartland, a member of Victoria's parliament for the Greens party was quoted by WSJ as saying.
Discussions are, however on, with salons for the safe disposal of the beds, the WSJ report said.
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