Melanoma Trust

In Memory of Sharon Rice O’Beirne


Ban on use of sunbeds for children moves closer

A ban on the use of sunbeds by under 18-year-olds has moved a step closer with the Department of Health planning to meet interested parties in the coming weeks before it finalises legislation providing for the ban.

In recent months the department received 18 submissions in a public consultation on proposed legislation to regulate the use of the artificial tanning machines. The majority of submissions sought a ban on the use of sunbeds by under 18-year-olds.

Submissions also addressed areas such as restrictions on the sale and rental of sunbeds and the need for supervision in places where tanning services were offered.

Warning labels on sunbeds and in places offering tanning services were also called for. The Environmental Health Officers Association has previously expressed concern at the increase in the number of tanning outlets in places such as video stores and health centres.

The new regulations will also address the need for exemptions for medical use. The medically-supervised use of sun lamps is sometimes used for certain skin conditions such as dermatitis and psoriasis.

There is growing evidence that the ultra-violet (UV) radiation emitted by sunbed bulbs may damage the skin and increase the risk of developing skin cancer. One in every three cancers diagnosed worldwide is a skin cancer and most of them are attributed to over-exposure to natural UV radiation.

An International Agency for Research into Cancer report published last year found that people who started using sunbeds under the age of 35 increased their risk of malignant melanoma by 75 per cent.

In its submission to the Department of Health consultation, the Irish Cancer Society said the lack of specific legislation around sunbeds meant that people were not protected from this “potentially hazardous industry”.

Because there was no legally required training for operators of artificial tanning equipment, consumers could not be confident that the operators knew what they were doing.

“Lack of training in this could lead to severe burning and other adverse skin effects including increasing the risk of skin cancer,” the submission warned.

It called for mandatory operator-training and the placing of warning labels on sunbeds and in relevant premises.

It also recommended the introduction of a sunbed licensing scheme and said that all premises providing sunbeds for public usage should be registered with the Health Service Executive.

The public consultation is now closed and a spokesman for the department said it expected to complete its consideration of the submissions shortly. It will meet interested parties over the coming weeks before producing the legislation.

The sunbed consultation was introduced by Minister for Health Mary Harney in May after she expressed concern about the dangers of exposing children to ultra-violet rays from sunbeds. She said she had come across young children who were using sunbeds to get a tan for their First Communion.

One survey by the Irish Cancer Society found that 6 per cent of under-15year-olds had used sunbeds.

The World Health Organisation has encouraged governments to introduce legislation governing their use.

The WHO has also highlighted the need to restrict their use by under 18-year-olds and to ban unsupervised trained personnel.

Original Source : Alison Healy | The Irish Times | 14th October 2008.

Filed under : What the Papers Say
By The Irish Times
On 13 October, 2008
At 10:00 am
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