SunSmart and Cancer Council Victoria have called on the Victorian Parliament to follow the lead of the South Australian Government that has today announced a ban on solariums by 31 December 2014.
Jen Makin, Manager of the SunSmart program at Cancer Council Victoria, said the SA ban followed a similar announcement by the NSW Government earlier this year, and urged the Victoria Parliament to take action.
"If Victoria continues to stand alone on the issue and doesn't introduce a ban, there is a real risk we will become a dumping ground for solariums from other states. When it comes to health, it is absolutely vital to have national consistency in the way carcinogens are dealt with.
"Switching off sunbeds should be a priority – they are dangerous, unnecessary, outdated and irrefutably linked to cancer – and recent history has shown that solarium owners are able to successfully transition into other non-cancerous businesses.
"If the Victorian Government doesn't take action now, it will be creating a state which encourages solarium tourism. It may even cause the now dwindling industry to enjoy a resurgence as operators are able to pick up cheap sunbeds from other states.
"The risk of melanoma is increased by 87 per cent if people are exposed to sunbeds before the age of 35. We are also seeing that young people using solariums are at greater at risk of developing basal and squamous cell carcinoma, common skin cancers that are generally found in older people. Although less dangerous than melanoma, these cancers can spread to other parts of the body if left untreated," Ms Makin said.
Last month 161 dermatologists and cancer specialists and clinicians of the Victorian Co-operative Oncology Group (VCOG) joined together with Cancer Council Victoria to call on the government to take action and ban solariums in this state.
"Our research shows that current regulations are ineffective in protecting Victorians. We have the support of the medical community for a ban. We also know solariums are even more dangerous than previously thought. The time has come to ban solariums in order to help reduce skin cancer incidence in this state," Ms Makin said.
An estimated one in six melanomas in young Australians aged 18–29 could be prevented if solariums were shut down.
It has been estimated that each year in Australia, 281 new melanoma cases, 43 melanoma-related deaths, and 2,572 new cases of squamous cell carcinoma are attributable to solarium use, at a cost to the health system of around $3 million.