Press Release

Government publishes Sunbeds Bill – Will prohibit operators of sunbed premises from allowing anyone under 18 to use sunbeds

“There is growing evidence that the use of sunbeds, especially by children, should be restricted because of the associated increased risk of skin cancer and other health problems”, the Minister said. “The Government gave me approval to legislate to prohibit operators of sunbed premises from allowing anyone under 18 years of age to use a sunbed on their premises and to prohibit the use of sunbeds in unsupervised premises”.

The Minister noted that the World Health Organisation has recently reclassified sunbed use from a group 2A carcinogen (probably carcinogenic to humans) to a Group 1 carcinogen (carcinogenic to humans). Given this evidence that the use of sunbeds poses a major cancer risk, this Bill also provides for:

  • control on the remote sale or hire of sunbeds (internet transactions);
  • a requirement that sunbed operators provide training for staff;
  • an enforcement regime to enable inspections to be carried out by the HSE and the imposition of penalties for non-compliance including fixed payment notices;
  • an obligation on all sunbed operators to provide protective eyewear and that the sunbeds are maintained in a clean and hygienic condition;
  • a requirement that warning signs be displayed in all sunbed premises;
  • a prohibition on certain claims attributing health benefits to sunbed use;
  • a prohibition on promotional marketing practices;
  • a requirement on operators to ensure that sunbed users are made fully aware of the potential dangers of sunbed use and that they are given an opportunity to read the health information form and sign it; and
  • an exemption to enable medically supervised photo-therapy treatments within the health system.

The Minister said “action is required to protect the public, in particular children and young persons, from the risk of skin damage, and the increased risk of developing skin cancer. We need to promote a greater public awareness across all age groups of the dangers of developing skin cancer, premature ageing and eye damage from exposure to ultraviolet radiation (UVR). I believe that this Bill will contribute to a reduction in the incidence of skin cancers over the coming years.”

Note to Editors

Outcome of the notification of the Bill to European Commission

The Department notified the draft Public Health (Sunbeds) Bill to the EU Commission under the EU’s Technical Standards Directive (98/34/EC) (known as the Transparency Directive) on 29 August 2013 and the standstill period ended on 2 December 2013. During the standstill period, the Commission had an opportunity to make observations on whether the draft Bill created new barriers to trade. The Commission did not make any observations which would extend the standstill period or amend the draft Bill.

Health Risks

There has been a growing body of evidence over recent years, that the use of sunbeds, especially by children, should be restricted because of the associated increased risk of skin cancer and other health problems.

The WHO’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) reclassified sunbed use from a group 2A carcinogen (probably carcinogenic to humans) to a Group 1 carcinogen (carcinogenic to humans).