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Are you under the age of 18 and do you use a sunbed to top up your tan?
From today (Friday 8th April), a new law comes into force in England that prevents businesses from allowing anyone under the age of 18 to use their sunbeds.
The law is being introduced by the government to protect children and young people from harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays which are emitted from sunbeds.
Rob White, Head of Regulatory Services for Environmental Health and Consumer Protection at Bournemouth Borough Council, said:
“We will be responsible for enforcing this new Act and we will take the approach of educating and informing businesses in the first few weeks while businesses adjust to the new law. It is likely that we will undertake test purchasing exercises on sunbed businesses this summer to check that they are complying with the Act.”
Peter Haikin, Regulatory Services Manager for Environmental and Consumer and Protection Services at Borough of Poole, said:
“The statistics for young sunbed users who develop skin cancer are worryingly high; it is incredibly important to protect children and young people which is why we fully support this ban.”
Lindley Owen, Consultant in Public Health, NHS Bournemouth and Poole, said:
“We welcome the new regulations of the Sunbed Act as a positive step towards protecting young people from skin cancer. This Act corresponds with the proactive work that the Dorset Cancer Network has undertaken on sunbeds by showing teenagers the damage to their skin from sunbed use.”
Councils across Dorset have written to all sunbed businesses advising them of the new law and have provided guidance on what measures they should put in place to ensure that they are operating legally. Essentially sunbed businesses must be satisfied that everyone who uses a sunbed is aged 18 years or over. They will also be expected to check for photographic proof of age before allowing people to use their sunbed machines. An operator of a sunbed business, who breaks the law, could be prosecuted with a fine up to £20,000.
The harmful UV rays from sunbeds can also leak to surrounding areas and so the new law also states that sunbed businesses must not permit under-18s from entering a room containing a sunbed.
Cancer Research UK state that sunbeds give out UV rays which damage the DNA in our skin cells. Over time, this damage can build up and may eventually lead to skin cancer. Experts recently moved sunbeds from the ‘probably carcinogenic’ category to the ‘carcinogenetic’. This puts sunbeds in the same category as tobacco, alcohol and asbestos. Young people are particularly at risk; people who first use a sunbed before the age of 35 have a 75% increased risk of developing melanoma, the most serious type of skin cancer.