Hot and cold over sunbeds

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Ban sunbeds . . . University of Otago Department of Preventive and Social Medicine research fellow Bronwen McNoe wants the Government to ban the commercial use of sunbeds. PHOTO: SHAWN MCAVINUE

A call to ban sunbeds is polarising Dunedin residents.

Consumer NZ chief executive Sue Chetwin said she wanted the Government to ban the use of commercial and residential sunbeds as New Zealand had the highest rate of skin cancer in the world.

In a statement released last week, Ms Chetwin said a Consumer NZ mystery-shopper survey last year checked if sunbed operators across New Zealand were breaking the law by allowing people under the age of 18 to use a commercial sunbed.

An underage shopper visited three sunbed operators in Dunedin – Groom Laser & Skin Clinic and Inspiring Women in central Dunedin and Headway Design in Mosgiel.

All three declined the shopper’s request to use a sunbed.

However, two operators in New Zealand allowed a person under 18 to use a sunbed and six operators allowed people with fair skin to use a sunbed, she said.

Existing regulations were not providing sufficient consumer protection.

Lisa Taylor, of St Kilda, said sunbeds should not be banned.

She had used them regularly for about 20 years and had never had an adverse reaction.

“Just nice golden skin.”

Groom Laser & Skin Clinic manager Erin van de Water, of Dunedin, said Groom was moving from Hanover St to George St in a fortnight and was to sell its only sunbed.

Groom once had six sunbeds but only had the one left because sunbeds were not its primary service, Ms van de Water said.

“People are very upset we are getting rid of it because they think they need it for their arthritis, pain or allergies.”

About 25 people used the sunbed in a week, she said.

About half were bodybuilders, a few were about to go on holiday, and the rest were older people with skin conditions.

“Many of them have psoriasis or dermatitis and have been advised by a doctor some sun will help.”

An Inspiring Women spokeswoman, who declined to be named, said the gym had a sunbed, which clients used to “prepare for a holiday or an occasion” or to treat a health condition.

The owner of Headway Design, who declined to be named, said she had one sunbed in the salon.

The sunbed was regularly used “but not as much as it used to be”.

If sunbeds were banned, they would be missed by Mosgiel residents, she said.

Many clients had told her that doctors had recommended the use of a sunbed.

Australia banned commercial sunbed services in 2017.

Cancer Society Otago and Southland division health promotion adviser Linda Buxton, of Dunedin, said the society supported a complete ban of the commercial use of sunbeds.

About 90% of skin cancer was caused by overexposure to ultraviolet radiation from the sun or artificial sources, such as sunbeds, she said.

A Dunedin City Council spokeswoman said the council stopped providing a sunbed service in Moana Pool in June 2009.

“As far as we are aware, this was the only DCC facility that had sunbeds and we don’t own any sunbeds currently.”