Wanganui's "sunny weather" means few residents use sunbeds - so there's no need to regulate the local industry, says Wanganui Mayor Annette Main.

She was responding to Auckland's decision to become the first city to ban under-18s from using sunbeds because of cancer risks.

Under an Auckland Council bylaw which came into effect on July 1, commercial sunbed operators must have a licence. The move is aimed at limiting harm from commercial sunbeds and includes a ban on treating people aged under 18.

Elsewhere in New Zealand, sunbed operators are asked to comply with a voluntary standard declining treatment to people under 18 and those of any age with fair skin.


Ms Main said a sunbed bylaw was not a priority for her council.

"We have great, sunny weather in our district, so over-use of sunbeds doesn't appear to be a big issue for us.

"Anecdotally, we are hearing that young people are more likely to use spray tan, as it is seen as safer and more desirable."

The Auckland bylaw also covers tattooing, body piercing, hair removal and nail services.

The International Agency for Research on Cancer says tanning devices that emit ultraviolet radiation can cause cancer. Its analysis showed the risk of melanoma increased by 75 per cent when the use of tanning devices started before age 30.

New Zealand has one of the world's highest rates of melanoma, with more than 300 deaths each year.

Cancer Society Auckland chief executive John Loof urged the Government to follow Australia's example and ban commercial sunbeds.

"Sunbeds are dangerous and unnecessary and they significantly increase the risk of melanoma, the most serious form of skin cancer, and the risk of developing melanoma at an early age."