NZCPR 9 November 2014
Last week in Parliament the Health (Protection) Amendment Bill passed its first reading and was referred to the Health Select Committee. The bill contained a section banning sunbed use for young people under the age of 18. Such sunbed age restrictions have already been adopted in other jurisdictions such as South Australia, the United Kingdom, Germany and California.
The Minister of Health, Dr Jonathan Coleman explained to the House that artificial UV tanning is associated with an increased risk of developing skin cancer and that younger people are more vulnerable: “There is strong evidence that people who use sunbeds increase their risk of malignant melanoma and other more common skin cancers. The greater the exposure, the greater the risk of skin cancer.”
The Minister went on to say, “The Government considers that the evidence of health harm gives sufficient justification for intervention, particularly in respect of controls to protect young people from exposure to sunbeds.”
What was clear from the debate was that Members of Parliament were unanimous in their desire to protect young people from what they considered to be a serious health risk. The Green Party in particular has been very outspoken on this issue for some years, calling not only for tighter regulations, but for an all out ban.
The Greens are also opposed to cigarette smoking because of the health risk, promoting the goal of a “Smoke Free Aotearoa” by 2025.
About the Author: Dr Muriel Newman is the founder and Director of the New Zealand Centre for Political Research – a public policy think tank she established in 2005 after nine years as a Member of Parliament.