Page last updated at 11:22 GMT, Wednesday, 30 September 2009 12:22 UK

New laws to ban child sunbed use

Sunbed in use (library picture)
People under 18 could be banned from using sunbeds in Wales

Children would be banned from using sunbeds in Wales under new laws to be proposed by the assembly government.

Unstaffed sunbed salons would also be banned under regulations planned by Wales' Health Minister Edwina Hart.

It follows the case of a 10-year-old girl from Port Talbot who suffered burns after spending 16 minutes on a sunbed at an unsupervised salon.

The sunbed industry said it welcomed a ban on unstaffed salons and wanted to encourage responsible tanning.

Ms Hart told the assembly's health, wellbeing and local government committee the issue of unstaffed sunbed salons in Wales was a public health problem.

She said all ways to introduce new legislation were being considered including a request to Westminster for the assembly government to draft laws controlling the salons.

"I am particularly concerned about the use of coin-operated sunbeds," she said.

"It is my intention to prohibit the use of sunbeds by persons under 18 years of age and also ban the operation of unstaffed sunbed salons in Wales."

Ms Hart told the committee there was an issue with advertising and the promotion of images of tanned bodies, and she was concerned about the number of times young people might visit sunbed salons.

"(But) it's not like going on holiday and there is a real issue with advertising," she said.

In Scotland a similar ban is due to come in by November.

'Cancer risk'

Regulations could include tough new sanctions, ensuring protective eyewear is provided at salons, as well as giving users information on the health risks associated with using sunbeds.

Edwina Hart AM
Edwina Hart AM is worried about under 18s using sunbeds

An assembly government survey showed there were 419 tanning outlets in Wales of which 46 are unstaffed salons.

Sam Kirby of Consol sun centres, also gave evidence to the committee.

The company has the UK's biggest coin-operated sunbed salons and represents about 2% of the sunbed industry.

She insisted the primary focus on all of their company's communications was how to tan responsibly.

Ms Kirby said that CCTV had been installed to monitor who was using the sunbeds and for how long, and they had questioned 1,000 of their customers and none had indicated they had burnt on the sunbeds during a tanning session.

"Our experience in Consol studios through various means, research and CCTV, is that young people are not using our studios," she said.

"Of course, if for a minute we thought that was not the case then we would take that very seriously and want to do something about that."

There are serious scientific concerns that the use of sunbeds by people under the age of 30 may increase the risks of cancers including malignant melanoma.

Over the Easter holidays, a 10-year-old girl from Port Talbot suffered 70% burns after putting £8 into a coin-operated sunbed and spent 16 minutes on the bed.

Other cases of young teenagers being treated for burns in similar circumstances have also been highlighted in recent months.

Kathy Banks, chief executive of the Sunbed Association said it had never allowed unstaffed salons into its membership and would welcome a legal ban for unstaffed tanning facilities.

On the issue of non-use by under 18s, she said its code of practice "has always prohibited use by under 16s but of course if the law stipulated non-use by under 18s, it would change its code of practice accordingly to ensure its members meet all legal requirements".

The Chartered Institute of Environmental Health (CIEH) said it was a "huge step in the right direction".

The organisation's director in Wales Julie Barratt said research it carried out last year found more than half of tanning salons surveyed would allow children under 16 to use a sunbed.

"There is clear evidence that the use of artificial tanning equipment just once a month can increase your risk of skin cancer by more than half," she said.

"These risks are increased in the young, highlighted recently by a number of incidents of children being seriously burned from unsupervised sunbed use."

Nina Goad of the British Association of Dermatologists said it was a "really positive move".

She said: "Scotland has already introduced restrictions as part of the Public Health Bill and while we welcome the recent research into similar legislation in England, we sincerely hope it leads to action sooner rather than later."

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29 Sep 09 |  Wales
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04 Sep 09 |  Wales
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21 Aug 09 |  Wales
'Growing worry' on sunbed salons
09 Jul 09 |  Wales
Girl, 10, burned at tanning salon
01 May 09 |  South West Wales

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