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Under-18s face sunbed ban in NI

19 November 09 11:05 GMT

The NI health minister is proposing that under-18s be banned from using tanning salons.

Michael McGimspey has launched a consultation on new regulations for the sunbed industry.

Tanning salons are not subject to any form of direct statutory regulation and there are no age restrictions on who can use them.

In Scotland the law bans under-18s from using sunbeds and a similar move has been proposed in England and Wales.

There is growing evidence that links sunbed usage with the development of skin cancers, and the contribution of sunbeds to malignant melanoma has been estimated at 100 deaths per year in the UK.

In Northern Ireland, the incidence of malignant melanoma skin cancer cases has increased over the past 25 years, from around 80 recorded cases in 1984 to 233 in 2007.

The Department of Health estimates there are approximately 400 outlets in Northern Ireland offering sunbed sessions.

In 2007, environmental health officers surveyed 332 premises operating sunbeds and found a wide variation in operating practices and poor standards among some providers.

'Bronzed'

Mr McGimpsey said he is considering a range of possible measures which, in addition to the ban on under-18s, includes an end to unstaffed, coin-operated tanning facilities.

He added: "There is a perception that sun-tanned skin or a bronzed body equates to health and beauty, and the use of sunbeds for tanning continues to increase in popularity.

"But it is important that people are aware of the potential risks associated with overexposure to ultraviolet radiation, which is emitted by sunbeds."

Tanning salons in Scotland can be fined £100 if they are caught letting people younger than 18 use sunbeds.

The consultation document and response pro-forma is available at the DHSSPS website:

http://www.dhsspsni.gov.uk/index/consultations/current_consultations.htm

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