The provisions of the Sunbeds (Regulation) Act 2010 – introduced as a Private Members Bill - will make it an offence for an operator of a sunbed business in England and Wales to allow, or offer, someone under the age of 18 to use or access sunbeds on their premises.
The ban is designed to reduce the incidence of skin cancer by protecting under 18s from the dangers of overexposure to ultra-violet radiation.
In addition, the Act enables the Welsh Assembly Government to introduce stricter controls on sunbed use, which will be enforced by local authorities.
The Minister has also confirmed her intention that, from 31 October 2011, unsupervised sunbed use will also be banned in Wales.
These further controls will be introduced by the Sunbeds (Regulation) Act 2010 (Wales) Regulations 2011 that are being debated in the National Assembly for Wales today 29 March. Once made, the regulations will, from 31 October 2011:
- require the supervision of sunbed use on all sunbed businesses;
- prohibit the sale or hire of sunbeds to under 18s;
- extend to businesses that operate from domestic premises the requirement that sunbeds are not used, or offered for use, to under 18s on those premises;
- prescribe the health information that is to be displayed and made available to adults who may seek to use a sunbed;
- prohibit the provision or display of any material relating to health effects of sunbed use, other than material containing the health information prescribed; and,
- require the provision and wearing of safe and appropriate protective eyewear for adults.
In 2009, the Health Minister commissioned Cancer Research UK to undertake a survey of young people’s use of sunbeds in Wales. The study found that overall, 8.2% of all children aged 11-17 said that they had used a sunbed at least once and a further 16% said that they may use a sunbed in future.
In addition, 41.5% said they were unsupervised when they used tanning equipment in either a tanning/beauty salon or gym/leisure centre. Usage was much higher among girls, with 22.5% of those aged between 15-17 years (more than one in five girls in this age group) having used a sunbed.
Mrs. Hart said:
"The impact of cancer on individuals and their families is potentially devastating and as a government we remain committed to doing all that we can to tackle cancer.
"These measures are designed to protect young people from the increased risk of developing skin cancer resulting from the use of sunbeds.
"While our main focus is to protect children and young people, the regulations also provide the requirement for sunbed operators to provide more advice and protection for adults.
"There have been a number of high profile cases over the last few years that have highlighted the significant harm that the use of sunbeds in unsupervised tanning salons can have. These shocking stories raised significant questions about the effectiveness of current practice and prompted calls for tighter regulation of the tanning industry.
"As a Government, we have been determined to take action to deal with this issue – and I’m delighted that we have now done so."
Chief Medical Officer for Wales, Dr. Tony Jewell said:
"Rates of skin cancer have increased in recent years and this is partly related to increasing exposure to ultra-violet radiation.
"We are concerned about the increased use of sunbeds, particularly by young people, and these regulations will help to reduce the risks of skin damage and cancer. This is part of our investment in prevention and education to reduce the incidence of cancer in Wales."
Sarah Woolnough, Director of Policy at Cancer Research UK, said:
"We are delighted that young people will be protected from sunbed use from April 2011 and that the Welsh Assembly Government will introduce supporting regulations to make the legislation as effective as possible. We believe the legislation will help save lives.
"There is clear evidence that sunbed use increases the risk of skin cancer. The World Health Organisation has classified sunbed use in its highest risk category for cancer, alongside tobacco. We also know that young people, particularly teenage girls, have used sunbeds in large numbers in recent years across Wales. As well as protecting children from sunbeds, the health information in salons will help inform all users of the risks associated with sunbed use."