Source: The Mercury, 25 January, 1998, p.7
SOAKING up the rays at the Hobart Aquatic Centre, this group of Tasmanian teenagers seems decidedly blase about the risk of skin cancer. Most do not even wear sunscreen, let alone a broad- brimmed hat. Jackie Bellette, 15, of Dodges Ferry said she sometimes coverer up in the sun but did not wear sunscreen. "I just never put it on," she said. Natasha Banks, 17, of Moonah, said she did wear "normal" sunblock and did burn but was not concerned about the risks. Friend Jiah Cordell-Clair, 17, of Moonah told a similar story. "A couple of weeks ago I went to the beach and I didn't put any sunscreen on," she said. "I spent three hours in the sun, got burnt and started to peel. "I have gone brown now which is good." Ian Oates, 14, of Bagdad said he had been out in the sun every day and although he wore a baseball cap, he did not bother with suncreen. Adam Burns, 16, of Queenstown, also ventures out unprotected. Fair-skinned Hamish McLaren, 12, of Moonah, opts for sunscreen and a baseball cap. "I have been burnt a couple of times but I don't worry about skin cancer," he said. Sandy Bay GP and state cancer council board member Rob Walters said he believed a shock campaign was needed to alert teenagers to the risk of excessive exposure to the sun. The teenage years were the years of believing nothing bad could happen to them- even though they knew the facts. "The survey shows the message is getting through but there is the age-old problem of how do we actually change their behaviour rather than just presenting the effects," Dr Walters said. "The interest in fashion tends to override health concerns. It is very difficult to force teenagers to take any preventative health measures. "I think the only way really to do it is to shock, to show that young people do get melanoma and do die from melanoma." Another tactic would be to appeal to teenagers' cosmetic conscience. "There is no doubt with women who tan themselves regularly that their skin ages a lot quicker and they look old before their time," Dr Walters said. "We need to look at our technique [in getting the message out] and make some changes."
See also: Teen skin cancer alarm
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