NORTHERN IRELAND HEALTH Minister Edwin Poots has announced new legislation which bans people under the age of 18 from using, hiring or buying sunbeds.
The ban in Northern Ireland will take effect from today, 1 May, and any business found to be permitting under 18s to use, buy or hire sunbeds may be prosecuted
Health Minister Poots explained:
In Northern Ireland, the incidence of skin cancer cases has been increasing over the past 25 years. It is the now the most common form of cancer accounting for 28 per cent of all individuals diagnosed with cancer.
Younger people, under the ages of 18 are particularly at risk as younger skin is more delicate and prone to damage than older skin. Sunbed users under the age of 35 have a 75 per cent higher risk of developing malignant melanoma, the deadliest type of skin cancer.
He added that there “is a misconception among young people that tanned skin looks healthier, but using sunbeds to achieve this can give you wrinkles and brown spots resulting in premature ageing, and increasing the risk of developing skin cancer”.
Under the legislation, those over 18 who wish to use sunbeds will be provided with information on the health risks. Sunbed premises will be required to display a notice warning of the risks of sunbed use. Further measures will seek to ensure that appropriate protective eyewear is provided and worn, and all premises offering sunbeds sessions must be supervised.
Dr Carolyn Harper, Director of Public Health for Northern Ireland, said that the Public Health Agency welcomes the new law.
The move comes following a 2009 report by the Committee on Medical Aspects of Radiation in the Environment (COMARE), a UK Expert Committee, which considered the evidence on the health effects and risks from ultraviolet radiation exposure from sunbeds. One of the main recommendations of the report was to ban people under the age of 18 from using these devices.
The same year, the International Agency on Research into Cancer (IARC) reclassified sunbeds into the highest cancer risk category, ‘carcinogenic to humans’ (Group 1). IARC made its decision following a review of research which concluded that the risk of developing melanoma skin cancer is increased by 75 per cent when use of tanning devices starts before 35 years of age.
In the Republic of Ireland, similar proposals were brought forward by the previous Health Minister, Mary Harney. Current Health Minister, Dr James Reilly, announced last year that legislation on banning under-18s from using tanning beds is to be drafted.