Should voluntary tanning standards be made law?

Today is the day when a new joint Australian/New Zealand standard for the use of sunbeds comes into effect, albeit a voluntary one for New Zealand. This is the result of lots of work by the standards authority following a damning report that I posted about last January in Death by Tanning.

The Cancer Society is calling on our government to follow Australia’s lead by making the new standard legally binding here. I’m inclined to agree. The real question is this; Will a government who ran a big part of their election campaign against the so called “nanny state” have the courage to do what is right and protect the public not only from the physical harm from misuse of the beds but from the soaring health costs that comes with it?

What do you think?

15 Comments Posted

  1. Having regulations as suggested has nothing to do with nannyism. If anything it’s a health and safety issue that should be regulated rather than hoping that tanning salons will adhere to the voluntary standards.

  2. But you knew what I meant – this is a blog, a conversation, not an academic debate.

    Common sense can get lost in the pedantry sometimes. I’m not such an individualist as to be unconcerned about the effects on other people of such things as commercial suntanning places – it isn’t always about the money, but because other people do matter. If my daughter was using a place like that I’d want to give her what information I had – very likely her response (if sunbeds were not regulated) would be: It must be ok or they wouldn’t be allowed to do it. That’s not wilful ignorance, just ignorance supported by a legal commercial operation.

    It really isn’t likely that every single person undertaking that kind of risk (surfing and mountain-climbing are much more obvious, so not good comparisons) really understands the dangers – most rely on good regulation.

    It is worth noting that some melanoma victims of sunbeds were the ones to call for investigation and regulation – because they did not know what might happen to them. They thought it was safer than lying in the sun because the advertising led them to believe that.

  3. Frog,
    My post was in response to Ari’s inquiry as to how such a seemingly trivial thing as regulations on cooking oneself could be impinging on civil liberties in a manner likeable to that about which Mr Benjamin Franklin was referring to in the quote.
    In the present conditions, with no-fault treatment, I happen to agree with the regulation of sunbeds as it does impose significant monetary costs upon society. My point is mearly that if an action does not pose a cost to the populas then it should not be regulated as it is imposing excessivly on the liberties of the people and that in this instance it need not neccacarily impose on said liberties. The cost is only born by the populas because we have a no-fault publicly provided insurance scheme; to avoid a cost to society we could insist the payment of a insurance levy on sun-bed usage as we do with many sports, we could ensure that where an illness may be determined to have been incurred due to ones own stupidity the costs fall on the individual, or my preference is that we say “if you want to use a sun-bed you may do so within these limits (the same as the regulations) but if you want to be stupid and cook yourself outside of these limits you must sign a waver on state insurance payments in regard to said diseases” in that manner the public is protected and no liberties are impinged.

    I don’t cook myself, with my Irish lineage I cannot afford to 😛 .
    Also, regulation cannot be based on science as science is a non-normative discipline; regulation can be based on normative interpretations of social desirability informed by scientific observations but it cannot be based on science itself; an important distinction often lost on many.

  4. Sapient – your otherwise good logic fails on one significant point. The actions of idiots who cook themselves has a direct impact/harm on me – through the health system. It costs me dearly. Shark attacks and cauliflower ear don’t add up to much statistically or financially so it would indeed be excessive to restrict them. Not the case with skin cancer from a known, quantifiable cause which is easily mitigated without banning the activity.

    I suppose you think that requiring the wearing of seat belts in cars is impinging excessively on the liberties of the citizenship as well? Again, we mitigate the risks rather than ban the activity.

    I am happy to pay the health costs (harm to me) from automobiles, surfing and rugby because the risks to me have been mitigated without impinging on my neighbour’s rights too much. So it should be with sunbeds. Mitigate the risks and then let them fry if they want to. Simple.

  5. Not a ban Sapient, regulation based on science. You can go and cook yourself if you want to still, but it will be in a more controlled environment than it has been. It’s not a sport but a so-called health clinic so needs to offer something less random than it did.

  6. Ari,
    When the state dictates to the citizen that they may not partake, or may do so only to a limited degree, in a particular action or set of actions which cause no harm to the other unconsenting members of the society then the state is impinging excessivly on the liberties of the citizenship.
    This instance would be no different than banning surfing because of potential shark attacks, or banning rugby because of cauliflower ears and is different only in degree to banning gay marrage or the use of contraception because god might not approve.
    While I agree that sunbeds should not be used I recognise that it is not my place to tell people that they cannot partake in an action that causes no harm to myself, that their life is their business and if they want to risk it it is they whom must deal with the consequences.

  7. If you’d like to explain to me the loss of safety involved in visiting a losing your ability to roast yourself in a tanning talon, I’m all ears. I think the good Mr. Franklin was referring to matters like unwarranted searches, the right to privacy, and things like free association, and the tendency towards state-sanctioned violence when these rights are violated.

  8. Prehaps he is of the mind of mr franklin; “Those that would give up a little liberty for a little safety will gain neither and loose both” – i always found that quote amusing.

  9. I appreciate that Sapient, but currently he is paying for these self induced injuries and illness via his taxes. But his ideology won’t let him admit that a simple regulation of the market, (not a ban), means he will pay little or nothing in the future.

  10. Frog,
    I seem to recall that BB, for good reason, is also not for paying for self-induced injuries and illness.

  11. BB – I wasn’t suggesting a ban and neither are the new Australian/NZ standards. They are talking about regulating the time and “temperature” at which you are allowed to cook in a sunbed, and restricting it to 18+ years of age. Not quite a ban, and based on the science, not someone’s hysteria. Is that not reasonable?

    You don’t seem to ever want to pay a dime for anyone on the dole, yet you are happy for idiots to cook themselves and then you pay for their healthcare? Where’s your brain man?

  12. BB I thought Obama was the new Jesus. Now I see you have joined the hallowed Church of The Amphibian! May you croak!

  13. My goodness, BB.

    Such profanity is unbecoming.

    I’ll assume that you haven’t ever had a loved one or relative die of skin cancer, or melanoma; I watched my grandfather’s final years become a series of surgeries as small skin tumours were removed from his legs, back, arms – anywhere that, as a jockey, he’d been exposed to the sun during his active career, riding thoroughbreds on racetracks every summer.

    The worst one I heard of was a friend’s mother, who lived in California during the 50’s and 60’s, then moved to NZ with her Kiwi husband, living on the North Shore in Auckland. She was a fan of sunshine, raised a family of sunlovers, but died of melanoma which spread to her lungs, asphixiating her slowly and painfully. Most of us don’t realise that lung linings are the same epithelial tissue that is inside and around our mouth and nasal passages. Skin, that is.

    All of us became very sun-smart after watching this courageous, elegant and beautiful woman suffer terribly in her final weeks. None of her grandchildren are fans of the tan, and her daughter’s friends all pledged to keep our children free of sunburn, and teach them to stay out of the sun during peak hours of 11am to 3pm.
    This was over a decade ago; and I still wince when I see a young woman, heavily reddened after a day at the beach with her family, loading sunburnt children into a car. It’s just not worth it.

    Sunhats, loose, light, long-sleeved clothing, and sunblock if you must uncover, are lessons we all should have taken on board a long time ago.

    I can’t believe we’re even having a debate about sunbeds, as it’s been known by dermatologists in Europe for a long time that pre-tanning before going on vacation doesn’t provide protection from sunburn, nor from skin cancer – look at any of the top models in the world, and you won’t find women tanned like old saddle bags amongst the crop under 45.
    The top-selling skincare products for women with mature skin (read: over 25) are those that have UV-blocker in them, or have UV-whitening compounds in them – to prevent melanisation of fair skins.

  14. I’m an avid green supporter, But I don’t see the need to ban people from doing harm to themselves, only from doing harm to others.

  15. “What do you think?”

    Jesus Frog!, have you learnt nothing from the last election?.

    The people do not want your style of nanny state government, they see you as the party that wants to ban everything and here you are looking at adding to that list.

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