We Are Sunshine

Smart Tan Responds to Western Australia Tan Ban Proposal

Monday, April 7th, 2008

Smart Tan Vice President Joseph Levy sent the following response to newspapers in Western Australia, where public health officials are enacting tanning regulations that will not improve public understanding of the need for a balanced message about UV light:

Cooler heads needed to prevail before Western Australia proceeded with overheated, knee-jerk indoor tanning regulations.

2008-04-07-smart-response-copy.jpgIt appears the regulatory bodies involved didn’t do their homework. Western Australia Health Minister Jim McGinty’s statement Friday in The Economic Times that, “There are no health benefits whatsoever, no therapeutic benefits from the use of solaria” is laughable hyperbole.

Indoor tanning units were invented in Europe specifically for the therapeutic benefits associated with UV light exposure – the tan was originally merely a cosmetic side effect. Specifically:

  • UV exposure is the body’s natural and intended way to produce vitamin D – which hundreds of studies now link with lower risks of just about every form of cancer, heart disease, multiple sclerosis, osteoporosis and even flu. Indoor tanners have 90 percent higher vitamin D blood levels compared to non-tanners, according to independent research.
  • The psychological benefits of regular UV exposure are well documented. Millions of indoor tanning enthusiasts worldwide use tanning equipment precisely for this reason.

The worldwide professional indoor tanning community knows that Western Australia’s intention to ban certain segments from professional tanning facilities will only lead to those individuals purchasing home tanning units or tanning more aggressively outdoors – actions that will increase sunburn incidence in Australia. And that’s the opposite of what regulations should be trying to accomplish.

Because they didn’t truly understand the problem, the government’s actions just made any problem worse.

No research connects moderate tanning in a non-burning fashion with melanoma. Melanoma appears most often on people who work indoors – not those who work outdoors. It’s relationship with UV light is complex and seems to be related to burning, not tanning. This very important distinction seems to be missed in many rhetorical public health campaigns in Australia.

We would be encouraged if a more pragmatic approach would be taken that partners with professional tanning facilities to solve the real problem – sunburn prevention for all Australians – rather than ramming an unrealistic, unwarranted sun-abstinence program down everyone’s throats.

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Joseph Levy
International Smart Tan Network