New Zealand’s largest newspaper on Monday re-circulated incorrect information about indoor tanning in an editorial calling for abolition of indoor tanning for those under 18 years of age.
The New Zealand Herald’s editorial board on Monday printed the editorial, endorsing a proposal by Australia’s Green Party leadership calling for a total ban on tanning for those under age 18. New Zealand’s Health Minister has said there are no plans to introduce such a proposal.
“For 20 or so years there was no more effective public health campaign than that warning of the dangers of the sun. Most youngsters took heed and the wearing of hats and application of sunblock lotion became standard practice,” the Herald wrote. “Over the past few years, however, the message seems to have lost some of its effectiveness. One of the results has been the increased use of sunbeds, especially by teenage girls, for some of whom the acquisition of a tan has become an obsession. That trend is continuing, notwithstanding increasing evidence that the practice is extremely dangerous.”
What the Herald and the Green Party fail to realize is:
1) No research has isolated tanning in a non-burning fashion as a significant risk factor for skin damage. In fact, no study to date has been designed that is capable of distinguishing subjects who have experienced sunburns from those who have not, nor have studies been designed to isolate indoor tanners from those who tanned outdoors.
2) Recent vitamin D research shows clearly that regular, non-burning exposure to sunlight has positive health effects that far outweigh the risks associated with sunburn, which can be minimized by practicing smart tanning and sunburn prevention — not sun avoidance.
3) Smart Tan has commissioned independent surveys showing clearly that banning teen-agers from professional indoor tanning facilities will only lead to more outdoor tanning and more sunburns — the kind of exposure believed to be linked to skin damage.
“The Herald and the Green Party are making a huge mistake — confusing the effects of repeated sunburn and overexposure with the natural, intended experience of regular non-burning exposure,” Smart Tan Vice President Joe Levy said. “Tanning is a natural body process — it is what the body is designed to do to protect itself from sunburn. No part of the tanning process is linked to permanent skin damage.”
Smart Tan Network members have access to Smart Tan’s White Paper on teenage tanning, “Teenage Tanning: Myths and Realities” showing the tanning community’s scientifically supported position on this topic. Call your Smart Tan Member Services representative at 800-652-3269 if you do not already have this paper. The paper has been sent to The Herald’s editorial staff as part of Smart Tan’s media response efforts.