HealthDoctor Karen

The dark side to sunbeds: New regulations on tanning come into effect

Doctor KarenBy Dr. Karen Palmer
Regulations: This was the first time the sunbed industry was regulated by law
Regulations: This was the first time the sunbed industry was regulated by law

NEW regulations on the use of sunbeds have come into effect.

From now on, sunbed operators will have to follow new rules including bans on promotions that encourage sunbed use such as “happy hours” and loyalty cards. They must also ensure they provide their customers with information on the health risks of sunbeds before they use them. 
 
Last year saw the first phase of the Public Health (Sunbeds) Act introduced which made it illegal to allow a person under 18 to use a sunbed. This was the first time the sunbed industry was regulated by law. The regulations now in force include:
  • Sunbed operators must provide customers with information about the health risks of sunbeds and must ensure they sign a declaration to say they are aware of the risks before use.
  • Certain marketing practices like “free of charge”, “reduced price” or “unlimited use” promotions as well as happy hours, loyalty cards and bonus points are now banned.
  • Sunbed operators are also banned from making unsubstantiated health claims such as that sunbed tanning is safer than sun tanning or that sunbeds are needed for vitamin D.
  • All sunbed operators will have to register with the HSE and pay an annual fee of €120.
  • Operators must display warning signs on the prohibition of use by anyone under 18.
  • Sunbed use on all premises must now be supervised, and the use of protective eyewear is compulsory.
Kathleen O’Meara, head of advocacy and communications at the Irish Cancer Society, said: “We campaigned for the last several years for this legislation and we are delighted that it is coming into force. A body of evidence has been built up that shows the clear link between sunbeds and skin cancer. 
 
“We now know that the risk of melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, from any sunbed use is 20 percent and this increases to 59 percent if the exposure was while the person was under 35.”
 
“The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) has placed sunbeds in the highest cancer risk category. This means that sunbed use is as carcinogenic as tobacco or plutonium. We would advise all people not to use sunbeds but it is vital that young people, who are most at risk, are protected,” she said.
 
“We campaigned for the Government to take the legislation further and also include a ban on those with the fairest skin types from using sunbeds. People with the fairest skin types are twice as likely to get skin cancer, and up to 75 percent of Irish people fall into this category. 
 
“Unfortunately, the Act does not contain this ban and we would ask the Government to consider bringing in further legislation banning Type 1 and Type 2 skin types from using sunbeds. We don’t want anyone using sunbeds but it’s especially important to protect those most at risk.”