Objective: To document the number and variety of indoor tanning facilities and services in New Zealand, and to analyse changes from 1992 to 2006.
Method: Hard copies of the Yellow Pages telephone directory listings of all 18 New Zealand regions for 1992, 1996, 2001 and 2006 were examined. Entries under solaria and sun bed headings were supplemented with entries where sun bed/indoor tanning services were explicitly advertised under hairdressing, beauty therapy/supplies, and health and fitness centre categories. Duplicate listings were eliminated.
Results: From 1992 to 2006, inclusive, there was a 241% increase in the number of businesses that advertised some form of indoor tanning service in the NZ Yellow Pages telephone directories. There was a 525% increase in the number of wholesale trade providers, indicative of expansion in the industry, overall. Hire services also increased. The reported findings are likely to represent an underestimate of the total numbers of facilities and providers.
Conclusion: Substantial growth in indoor tanning facilities and services in New Zealand has occurred since 1992.
Implications: The evidence of potential serious health risks from sunbed use, in conjunction with evidence of irresponsibility among some providers, suggests a need for regulatory controls to strengthen existing voluntary guidelines. With legislation recently introduced for the states of Victoria and South Australia, and proposed in Queensland and Western Australia before the end of 2008; it would be timely for New Zealand authorities to collaborate with those drafting that legislation.