Discount deals on solarium visits are a health hazard, and should be banned, according to Jen Makin, SunSmart Manager at Cancer Council Victoria.
Why is solarium discounting allowed, given the harm that it causes?
Jen Makin writes:
On 13 September, it will be five years since Clare Oliver died from melanoma at just 26 years of age.
Clare visited a solarium about 20 times in her early 20s and believed that these visits, combined with excessive sun exposure, contributed to her diagnosis.
While the number of solarium sites across Victoria has dropped substantially since the introduction of legislation in 2008 following her death, it is worrying that discount deals similar to the one she purchased are still available.
For example, Body And Bronze are offering 50% off solarium sessions when bought in bundles of 10 (spend $75 to get $150 worth in ‘value’).
They position the deal as a way to get “a great tan without doing any damage to your hip pocket.”
It might not hurt your pocket but what about the skin underneath? In fact, damage to your skin is guaranteed. Funny they don’t put that on the ad!
These deals are obviously concocted to appeal to image-conscious, cash-poor youth, a particularly vulnerable target audience.
The findings of a recent Australian study indicate that sunbed use is not only associated with increased risk of early-onset melanoma, but that the risk increased with greater use and an earlier age at first use.
And it is exactly these young people who are being targeted by these discount deals.
Worse, these deals actively encourage multiple solarium trips, where there is ample evidence showing that melanoma risk increases significantly with the number of sunbed sessions.
Another study based in the USA found a strong dose-response relationship between melanoma risk measured by total hours, sessions, or years. As a consequence, this type of marketing is very likely to have serious health consequences.
It’s certainly not your garden-variety product promotion we are dealing with here. Two six-packs of loo rolls for the price of one are great – hurts no one and helps to stretch the weekly grocery budget.
But 10 solarium visits for the price of five, even when used adhering to current legalisation and guidelines, significantly increases your risk of melanoma.
Surely discounting the cost of solariums to encourage increased use of these machines that have been labelled by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) as “carcinogenic to humans” should be outlawed.
The bottom line is there are no circumstances where using a solarium is safe.
The levels of UV radiation emitted can be up to three times as strong as the midday sun; this is equivalent to a UV Index of 36 (generally the highest UV Index level in Victoria is 12).
Dangerous discount deals should not be allowed to be used as a marketing tool to increase solarium visits.
Pending an outright ban, we call for further tightening and strengthening of the legislation to prohibit deals like this one, along with stricter enforcement and monitoring.
• Jen Makin is SunSmart Manager at the Cancer Council Victoria. You can follow SunSmartVic on Twitter.