Indoor tanning fans in Australia will soon have to go outdoors for a golden skin tone after their tanning beds are switched off because of a nationwide ban taking effect on Thursday. The ban, which the government has been planning since October 2013, is part of an ongoing effort to tackle the country’s skin cancer rate, one of the highest in the world.
The crackdown on tanning beds will take effect in five of Australia’s six states, and one of two territories – New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia, Tasmania, Queensland and the Australian Capital Territory. Western Australia said it will also ban tanning beds, but hasn’t announced a start date. The legislation does not affect the Northern Territory because there are no commercial tanning bed facilities in that part of the country.
Australia has one of the highest skin cancer rates in the world, affecting two out of three Australians by the age of 70. National cancer awareness group Cancer Council Australia welcomed the ban. “Solariums expose users to extremely highly levels of UV [ultraviolet] radiation, greatly increasing their risk of melanoma and other skin cancers," said advocacy director Paul Grogan to AFP. Cancer Council Australia said that the country’s skin cancer rate is two to three times that of Canada, the United States and Britain.
More than 2,000 Australians died in 2011 from melanoma, a form of skin cancer caused by ultraviolet rays from the sun. Tanning beds, which also emit ultraviolet rays, have been linked to melanoma, prompting officials to consider the ban.
Australia would be the second country in the world to implement a blanket ban on tanning beds; Brazil first banned them for minors back in 2003, and eventually expanded it to all ages in 2009. Several European countries and some American states have also banned its use for minors.
Indoor tanning became popular among people under 30 in the late 1990s and early 2000s. Its popularity has waned in recent years, and about 1 percent of adults and 0.3 percent of youths reported using tanning beds recently, down from 2.2 percent for adults and 1.2 percent a decade ago.