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New Zealand sunbed operators not up to standard

New Zealand sunbed operators not up to standard
February 6, 2019

A Consumer NZ mystery shop of sunbed operators has again highlighted poor practices in the industry. Two operators let an underage shopper have a sunbed session, while six let a person with fair skin that burns easily use a sunbed.

Consumer NZ Chief Executive Sue Chetwin said the operators’ behaviour was a significant concern, advising “using a sunbed is a health risk regardless of age or skin type but people under 18 or with fair skin are at greater risk of suffering lasting and serious damage.”

The World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer states using a tanning device before age 30 increases the risk of melanoma by 75%.

Consumer NZ’s mystery shoppers also visited 40 operators to check compliance with key safety guidelines in the voluntary sunbed standard.

From this Chetwin advised “we found little improvement in overall compliance since our 2015 survey. 45% of operators failed to implement basic checks.”

Under the voluntary standard, people using a sunbed should be given a consent form to sign to ensure they’re over 18, informed of the risks of sunbed use and made aware of the importance of wearing protective goggles. Thirteen operators didn’t provide shoppers with a consent form.

Eight operators didn’t do a formal skin assessment, which is important because certain skin types are more susceptible to UV damage. Eye protection is also essential because UV rays can damage your eyes and increase your risk of getting cataracts. Two Christchurch operators didn’t provide any eye protection at all.

Chetwin added “we’ve been mystery shopping sunbeds for more than a decade and the results have been consistently disappointing. Operators ignore or don’t understand the requirements, and this isn’t adequately protecting consumers. With New Zealand’s high rate of skin cancer, it’s time sunbeds were banned.”

Released on World Cancer Day this week (4th February), the survey saw mystery shoppers visit 58 sunbed operators including solariums (specialist sunbed establishments), fitness centres, hairdressers, beauty therapists and nail salons. Shoppers booked a session, told the operator it was their first sunbed and carried out the assessment in the privacy of the tanning cubicle. The mystery shoppers did not use the sunbeds.

For the full sunbed mystery shop, check out the February issue of Consumer magazine or visit

Related Articles

4th February 2019 - Research highlights the need for facilitation of healthy lifestyles to fight cancer

10th October 2018 - Melbourne sunbed operator fined $61,000 for running illegal solarium

11th February 2018 - Sunbed operators not up to standard

3rd December 2016 - Research shows commercial sunbed ban would have minimal impact on jobs

12th October 2016 - Coming sunbed restrictions prompts calls for New Zealand ban

14th December 2014 - New Zealand moves forward with sunbed restrictions

18th November 2013 - South Australia to ban sunbeds as ABC reports on tanning black market

27th October 2013 - WA Minister predicts solariums shut down

21st October 2013 - Cancer Council welcomes Queensland solarium ban

3rd July 2012 - Solarium operators shed sunbeds to public

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