The use of sunbeds is giving Tauranga girls in their teens the skin of a 60-year-old, a local skin cancer specialist says.

The comment comes after a Consumer NZ report showed two-thirds of sunbed operators surveyed nationwide failed to meet voluntary industry safety requirements.

Four Tauranga operators were surveyed. Three operators scored perfect or near perfect results but one, Global Fitness, met only two of the five safety requirements.

Global Fitness manager Carl Newman said he was working with the local inspectors to reach the voluntary regulations.


He said while he was disappointed at the result, an inspection in November had highlighted changes that needed to be made and these had since been implemented.

Skin Spots Skin Cancer Clinic director Franz Strydom is calling for sunbeds to be banned.

Dr Strydom said he regularly saw teenage girls who had skin which looked like that of a 40 or even 60-year-old.

"They cause cancer. They pick out people with light skin and try to make them get a darker skin.

"The only way to do that is to damage the skin and that damage in time leads to cancer.

"As a practitioner, I'm starting to see young girls with damaged skin you normally only see on people in their 40s and 60s.

"Sunbeds are doing a lot of damage to young kids that are very impressionable."

Dr Strydom said sunbeds should be regulated by the Ministry of Health in a similar way that medicines were.


The results of the survey caused New Zealand First MP Barbara Stewart to call for the total ban of sunbeds.

She said the report was appalling and provided clear evidence that stronger measures needed to be put in place as operators were not following the voluntary guidelines.

Tauranga MP Simon Bridges said while he agreed there needed to be tighter regulations, he did not support a ban as adults could make their own decisions.

"It's very clear that time on sunbeds dramatically increases risk of skin cancer, particularly melanoma."