IN A move that will put South Africa at the forefront of fighting skin cancer, the Cancer Association of South Africa (Cansa) has asked Minister of Health Aaron Motsoaledi to consider banning children under 18 from using sunbeds.
Most beauty salons in Port Elizabeth said they had replaced their sunbeds with spray tans.
A few that still offered sunbeds, said they did not check on the age of the people who used them.
Cansa chief executive Sue Janse van Rensburg said: "We want to raise awareness around the unregulated sunbed industry because of the direct link between sunbed use and the incidence of skin cancer."
She said Cansa handed a document with 16000 signatures of support to Deputy Minister of Health Gwen Ramokgopa and received assurances that the department would take action.
According to figures released by Motsoaledi in parliament in December, skin cancer is considered the third most-prevalent cancer in South Africa.
The country also has one of the highest incidence of skin cancer in the world.
Janse van Rensburg said international research in countries where the use of sunbeds by children was banned showed that overexposure to UV radiation before the age of 18 led to an increased risk of skin cancer later in life.
"Should this [a ban on children using sunbeds] be realised, South Africa would be among the first 20 countries to ban sunbeds to people under the age of 18.
" Australia, France, various states in the US and Brazil have a total ban on the use of sunbeds," Janse van Rensburg said.
"The International Agency for Research on Cancer, which forms part of the World Health Organisation, includes tanning devices on its list of the most dangerous cancer-causing agents – a list that includes plutonium and cigarettes."