New measures to clamp down on sunbed use by minors – Varadkar
The Minister for Health Leo Varadkar has issued Test Purchase Guidelines for the sale, use or hire of sunbeds to persons under 18 years of age.
The Guidelines will allow the Environmental Health Services to send a person aged between 15 and 17 years into a sunbed premises and attempt to purchase a sunbed session.
“With the commencement of the test purchasing programme, the HSE’s Environmental Health Services will have an extra tool in their overall enforcement programme to combat the sale, use or hire of sunbeds to minors. These test purchase guidelines are intended to help the Environmental Health Services to enforce the Public Health (Sunbeds) Act and protect young people from the dangers associated with the use of sunbeds,”
Minister Varadkar said.
Similar test purchase programmes are currently in place for the sale of alcohol and tobacco.
“The Public Health (Sunbeds) Act 2014 already prohibits the sale, use or hire of sunbeds or the use of sunbeds on sunbed premises to persons under 18. The test purchase programme will involve the EHS sending a person who is between 15 and 17 years of age into a sunbed premises for the purpose of purchasing a sunbed session,”
Minister Varadkar said.
“I want to stress that the objective of the test purchase programme is to ascertain whether a sunbed business is complying with the law, not to trap that business into committing an offence. In this regard, the test purchaser must answer all questions about their age truthfully.”
Dr Maurice Mulcahy, Regional Chief Environmental Health Officer of the HSE said: “It is essential that individuals supervising the use of sunbeds verify the age of customers to ensure they are over the age limit of 18 years old. This can be done quite simply by checking such documents as age cards, passports or driving licences. The new test purchase guidelines will enable us to verify if these essential checks are taking place and thereby ensuring the protection of children from the health risks associated with ultra violet radiation from sunbeds. Test purchases will commence in the near future.”
Dr Mulcahy reminded sunbed business operators who have not already done so, to complete the notification process before the 2nd September deadline. After this date, operators could incur fixed penalty notices which will require the payment of €300, and if there is still failure to notify, prosecution proceedings will follow.
The Test Purchase Guidelines-
- Outline the steps to be followed during all stages of test purchasing and the manner in which the welfare of the young person must be protected. They incorporate the protection standards set out under the Children First: National Guidelines for the Protection and Welfare of Children and ensure the protection of the test purchaser at all stages of the operation. Parental or guardian consent is required for the participation of all test purchasers.
- Were agreed in consultation with the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs and will be updated in the light of experience.
- Are available on the Department’s website here
The HSE Environmental Health Service has undertaken approximately 400 inspections since March this year in relation to the Public Health (Sunbeds) Act 2014 and Regulations. 146 sunbed businesses have fully completed the official notification process, submitting the required form and fee to the HSE.
The contact details of the Sunbed National Office are:
Sunbed National Office
Environmental Health Service
HSE, Galway Business Park
The email address is firstname.lastname@example.org,
The phone number is 091 737350 and the webiste is www.hse.ie/sunbeds
Under the Public Health (Sunbeds) Act 2014 a person who commits an offence is liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding €4,000 or imprisonment for a term not exceeding 6 months or both. Second and subsequent convictions can lead to a fine not exceeding €5,000 or imprisonment for a term not exceeding 12 months or both.