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Compliance with age and skin type restrictions following the introduction of indoor tanning legislation in Melbourne, Australia

Authors


  • Conflicts of interest:

    None declared.

Correspondence:

Ms Jennifer K. Makin, MSc, Centre for Behavioural Research in Cancer, Cancer Council Victoria, 1 Rathdowne Street, Carlton, Vic 3053, Australia.

Tel: +61 3 9635 5139

Fax: +61 3 9635 5380

e-mail: Jen.Makin@cancervic.org.au

Summary

Background/Purpose

The study aimed to establish compliance of indoor tanning businesses with 2009 legislation, particularly with requirements to provide information on skin cancer and exclude people under 18 or with fair skin.

Methods

Compliance was tested through surveys and in-person visits to 30 businesses in Melbourne, Australia. Research assistants presented as potential customers with different profiles: young adults eligible to use a sunbed, young adults with fair skin, under age customers who prompted with their age and under age customers who concealed their age and claimed to be 18 if asked.

Results

Communicating the risks of skin cancer during the visit improved from 70% in 2003, prior to the introduction of legislation, to 97% in 2009. While there were improvements in restricting access to sunbeds among high-risk groups, compliance of indoor tanning businesses with age and skin type restrictions remained less than optimal. Almost half (47%) allowed access to fair-skinned research assistants, compared with 90% in 2003. Only one of the 30 operators allowed access to a teenager who prompted with her age; in 2003, 52% of under age teenagers were granted access without parental consent. However, when teenagers concealed their age or claimed to be 18, 80% of operators granted them access.

Conclusions

The findings suggest that regulation of the indoor tanning industry is a better approach to this health issue than voluntary standards and/or education. Nonetheless, inadequate compliance with requirements to exclude high-risk groups lends weight to calls for stricter monitoring and enforcement, or an absolute ban.

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