• Tue, Feb 28 2012

Australia Wisely Outlaws Tanning Beds

This kangaroo says: "Use condoms! Not tanning beds!"

Australia’s melanoma rates are the highest in the world, with 1,200 deaths a year. Round after round of public health campaigns have urged locals to use sunscreen, wear hats and avoid sun during the hottest parts of the day. Now, the country’s most populous state–New South Wales, home of Sydney and the whole of the Capital Territory–has taken the campaigns a step further and banned the use of tanning beds: in three years, commercial tanning salons will become illegal. This is one in what will hopefully be a long line.

…Cue someone from the tanning industry trying to make a medical argument for the UV injections: Robyn Sweeney, who operates a tanning salon in a Sydney suburb, says that many of her customers use the tanning bads for “skin disease” (curious!), “depression, and vitamin D deficiency.” “I don’t see it as that bad for you,” she says, “And I think the main issue is burning and you don’t burn in a solarium,” and we think the main issue is a conflict of interest. Or that Robyn Sweeney is not a doctor.

Everyone seems to recognize that tanning beds are horrible for you, except the multi-billion dollar tanning industry and its acolytes, who have absolutely no problem spouting nonsense about the suppose benefits of tanning. When California passed a similar measure, we received a few insane comments/e-mails, like this one from hopefully unbiased user Tanners Rights: “This law is totally insane! Will the next be police patrolling the beaches and check that everyone are covered up with sun-screen? Moderate, regular and non-burning tanning, in the open sun or in a tanning bed, is probably the single best thing you can do for your health.”

Alternatively, here is a fact from Skin Cancer.org, an organization that does not profit from your use of tanning beds: “Indoor ultraviolet (UV) tanners are 74 percent more likely to develop melanoma than those who have never tanned indoors.” Melanoma, of course, is the deadliest type of skin cancer. Here are some more (terrifying) facts.

We’re curious, though: do you use tanning beds? Do you believe they’re safe… or do the benefits outweigh the risks? Would you let your kids use them?

Sorry! This poll is now closed.

(via NY Daily News)

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  • Misenhammer

    I wouldn’t say that the benefits straight up outweigh the risks, and I’m an avid non tanner of any kind. And she’s probably exaggerating the amount of clientele with medical problems, but I will say that it’s not a fake thing for some skin conditions to use tanning beds for great relief. my friend has… SOMETHING that makes her get huge patches of thick, dry, painful skin. She has a tanning bed in her house specifically for when her skin gets too bad, she’s not vain at all so it’s definitely just medical. She’s one of the few wealthy enough to afford such a luxury, so I could see how this could suck for poorer folk with the same problem.

  • Jill

    This article seems a little bias. With people working more indoors than they were likely every meant too – there IS a deficiency of sunlight which we so clearly are made to benefit from. I myself, have SAD – seasonal affective disorder – wherein I become slightly depressed in the winter due to lack of sunlight. I tan (Im in California) and when I do it’s maybe once every 2 weeks, using the UVA free beds, and always cover my face. Now of course, there is a great risk. Why, my mother even had melanoma on her face! But the crazy part? My doctor is the one who recommended tanning as a treatment for SAD. And it WORKS. I think there is a larger issue here, though. I feel that If people want to tan, let them. Not ALL tanning causes cancer 100% of the time, and who is the government to step in and regulate self health? What’s next? Will they ban restaurants that sell fatty foods?? Ban being outside in certain types of weather? Ban tanning lotion? Makeup that uses chemicals that may be cancer causing? Seems like it could turn pretty tyrannical. The “Tanners Rights” comment included in the article is very true, and here’s why: what are those people who used tanning beds going to do post ban? Stop Tanning? NO! They’re going to layout in the real sun – with less protection and all the harmful rays. I get that there are risks, but I want to be able to make that choice myself, not have the government tell me to.

  • vomiting

    New South Wales isn’t home of the Australian Capital Territory. The ACT is separate to NSW. I know it looks like it is landlocked, yeah, but they’re separate.

  • Susan

    Tanning as a multi BILLION dollar industry? PLEASE! They would be lucky to be a tenth of that. I’m sure they would be flattered to hear that kind of number, and wish they could aspire to that. What is interesting though is that Dermatologists have lost about 95% of their UV phototherapy business to tanning salons in the last decade. What used to cost me $100 in a derm’s office I can get for 5 bucks at a tanning salon. It’s clear to me where the motivation lies…it’s with the Dermatologists who want their business back! THAT’S the multi-billion dollar industry.

    • Ashley Cardiff

      From SkinCancer.org: “The indoor tanning industry has an annual estimated revenue of $5 billion.”