Thursday, 7 April 2011

Skin cancer risks lead to sunbed use ban for under-18s

Young people are to be banned from using commercial sunbeds from this week under new laws aimed at protecting them from potential health risks such as skin cancer.

Sunbed firms in Leeds are being warned that allowing under-18s to use their sunbeds or in most cases letting them even be in the area where they are used could lead to fines of up to £20,000.

Concerns about skin cancer and other effects of exposure to ultraviolet (UV) light during sunbed use combined with fears that young skin is more vulnerable to damage have led to the new legislation.

In its guidance* to the new law, the Health & Safety Executive says exposure to UV tanning equipment before the age of 35 “significantly increases” the risk of several types of skin cancer. They also say that younger people also seem to be more at risk from the “cancer-causing effects of indoor tanning”.

Councillor Tom Murray, Leeds City Council executive member for environmental services, said:
“Health risks associated with sunbed use are well-documented and young people in particular need to be extra-careful about their exposure to ultraviolet light.

“Our officers will be watching carefully to ensure that there is no abuse of the new law. We would also encourage people to report any breach of the rules to us.”

From April 8 it will be against the law for a business to allow anyone under 18 to use sunbeds or to even to permit them access to an area where the equipment is in use.

Environmental health officers from Leeds City Council will be monitoring local tanning companies to make sure they do not fall foul of the new Sunbeds (Regulation) Act 2010.

They have been busy updating their records of businesses offering sunbed hire in the city and writing to them to remind them of their new responsibilities. They have also alerted schools, trading standards and other interested groups.

A system is being set up to put checks in place and any reports of under-18s using commercial sunbeds will be investigated. Officers will have the power to inspect premises, see business records or other relevant information, apply for entry warrants and prosecute operators breaking the law.

Leeds City Council’s health & environmental action service can be contacted on 0113- 222 4406 or email

Notes to editors:
Sunbed operators have been issued with the following advice on good practice:
• Always request identification for young people before allowing access to sunbeds;
• Display information in the premises, preferably also in the window, outlining the requirement that suitable proof of age must be provided by young people;
• Keep records, including client age and health questionnaires, and make sure they are completed before use of sunbeds;
• Inform employees of the law and what you expect them to do to work within it.

*For more information on the new law and the Health & Safety Executive’s advice on sunbeds and their use, you can download a PDF of their document “Reducing health risks from the use of ultraviolet (UV) tanning equipment” here or visit their website at

For media enquiries please contact:
Donna Cox, Leeds City Council press office (0113) 224 3335