Ban the tan: solariums to be outlawed in Victoria

THE state government is preparing to ban solariums and the private sale of sunbeds.

Government and opposition MPs supported a motion in Parliament for the bans, introduced by Greens MP Colleen Hartland in the upper house on Wednesday night.

But despite saying he supported the motion, Health Minister David Davis refused to confirm the bans a day later, saying only that he would release a five-year plan to prevent skin cancer within months.

More than 150 health professionals wrote to the government in September - on the fifth anniversary of the death of melanoma sufferer and anti-solarium campaigner Clare Oliver - calling for a solarium ban.

Mr Davis said of the government's cancer prevention plan: ''We intend to release something that is very important for the state long-term. We are deeply supportive of the sentiment of clinicians, it is important what they are saying and we are quite determined to press forward.''

Ms Hartland said Victorians could expect legislation to ban solariums and the private sales of sunbeds by the middle of next year. She told Parliament she would give the government six months to bring in the legislation or she would introduce a private member's bill.

The NSW and South Australian governments have said they will ban solariums by December 2014.

Ms Oliver's campaigning in the last months of her life led to landmark laws across Australia from 2008 that banned sunbed use for people under 18 and those with very fair skin.

But the Cancer Council says the measures did not go far enough and Victorians were at risk of skin cancer from the 447 tanning beds still operating around the state.

Cancer Council Victoria's SunSmart manager, Jen Makin, called for swift action. ''Every day that we wait is another day that people are being exposed to sunbeds and, given the really clear dangers associated with that, I think it's important that we get on to it as quickly as possible,'' she said.

Ms Makin said an estimated 281 cases of melanoma and 43 deaths were caused by solariums in Australia every year. There are more than 10,000 new cases of melanoma and 1400 deaths in Australia each year.

It is estimated that about one in six melanomas in Australians aged 18-29 could be prevented if solariums were shut down.

The owner of Prahran's Maxitan salon, Anastasia Soulios, said she supported a solarium ban despite having a sunbed - which she plans to get rid of - that is used by about 50 clients each week.

''I see the difference between a tan from the sun and a tan from an electrical bed. It's a different colour and it actually produces a smell on the skin - it just doesn't smell right.''

The story Ban the tan: solariums to be outlawed in Victoria first appeared on The Age.

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