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Under 18s protected from sunbed dangers

8th April 2011

Businesses will face fines of up to £20,000 if they allow under 18s to use sunbeds from Friday 8 April, Public Health Minister Anne Milton announced today.

The Sunbeds (Regulation) Act 2010 aims to protect under 18s in search of a year-round tan from putting their health at risk.

Over-exposure to the UV rays has become the main cause of skin cancer. Despite this danger, the fashion for sun-kissed skin has led to a surge in demand for the artificial tanning industry.

The change in the law comes as Cancer Research UK launches the 2011 SunSmart campaign, which shows around two people under 35 are diagnosed with melanoma – the more serious form of skin cancer – each day. On average, six per cent of 11-17 year olds in England use sunbeds with 50 per cent of 15-17 year-old girls in Liverpool and Sunderland using them.

The Act will prevent under 18 year olds from:

  • being allowed to use tanning salons and sunbeds at premises including beauty salons, leisure centres, gyms and hotels;
  • being offered the use of a sunbed; and
  • being allowed to be in an area that is reserved for sunbed users.

Local Authorities will be responsible for enforcing the Act by inspecting businesses and premises to make sure they are complying with the new regulations.

Anne Milton said:

"Cases of skin cancer continue to rise each year. This new law will go some way to help reduce one of the biggest cancers among 15-24 year olds.

"We want to protect under 18s from the dangers of sunbeds and reduce the number of young people getting skin cancer.

"My message to young sunbed users is clear: you are putting your health at risk. Intense bursts of UV radiation can cause damage to your skin, even after just one use."

Chief Medical Officer Professor Dame Sally Davies said:

“The scientific evidence is clear - sunbeds increase your risk of getting skin cancer, with an estimated 100 deaths a year from skin cancer as a result of people using sunbeds.

“Skin cancer is one of the most common cancers in the UK. Damage to the skin from artificial or natural sunlight can take years to develop and young people are particularly vulnerable, which is why I welcome this new law that protects the under 18s.

“It is important that young people are aware they putting their health at risk by using sunbeds, and my advice to people of all ages is that sunbeds are not safe for cosmetic purposes.”

Sarah Woolnough, Cancer Research UK’s director of policy, said:

“As well as protecting under 18s from sunbed use, we hope the legislation sends a clear message to all that using a sunbed increases the risk of skin cancer. The World Health Organisation has classified sunbed use in its highest risk category for cancer, alongside tobacco.

“Skin cancer rates continue to rise rapidly, especially among under-35s as shown by our SunSmart campaign earlier this week, so we encourage people to take care in the sun and avoid using sunbeds. The safest way to get a tan is to fake it.”

 

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