Australia Bans Tanning Beds After Sharp Increase In Skin Cancer Rates

Australia is outlawing tanning beds on the heels of a study that showed a ban could drop cancer rates by close to 20 percent.

The island nation has some of the world’s highest skin cancer rates, with skin cancer making up 80 percent of new cases of cancer diagnosed. In 2011 close to 2,000 deaths in Australia were attributed to skin cancer, officials noted.

There is more evidence for the harmful effect of tanning beds. The World Health Organization has listed ultraviolet radiation as a Class 1 carcinogen, equal to smoking cigarettes or exposure to X-ray radiation.

Amid these grim numbers, several states in Australia have outlawed tanning beds

“The clear weight of medical evidence supports a ban,” said David Davis, Victoria’s health minister.

It is not just Australia that has banned tanning beds. Brazil has already outlawed indoor tanning salons, and several American states are placing restrictions on them. Earlier this year New Jersey joined Vermont and California in tightening access to tanning beds, with Governor Chris Christie signing a law that outlawed minors from using these indoor tanning beds.

Australia saw a boom in tanning beds in the late 1990s and early 2000s, with the number of salons in the second-largest city of Melbourne increased 600 percent between 1996 and 2006.

The tanning beds ban isn’t sitting well with some salon 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, the owner of a tanning salon located in a suburb of Port Melbourne.

Down under residents who want to get a deep glow need to hurry. The Australia tanning beds ban goes into effect after the end of the year in New South Wales and at the end of 2014 in four other states.