Press Release

Varadkar confirms ban on under-18s using sunbeds from Monday, 21 July

Minister Varadker announces details of a sunbed ban for under-18s

Minister Varadker announces details of a sunbed ban for under-18s

Minister for Health Leo Varadkar has confirmed that people under 18 years of age will not be allowed to use sunbeds from next Monday, 21 July.

“This is an essential step to protect children’s health and wellbeing and an important preventative measure in terms of skin cancer,” Minister Varadkar said.

“Skin cancer is the fastest growing cancer in Ireland. More than 850 new cases of melanoma are reported in Ireland each year, with 150 Irish people dying annually. This ban won’t solve the skin cancer problem on its own, but we can achieve our goal if we work together and raise awareness.

“This ban applies to the use of sunbeds on commercial premises by those aged under 18. It will help people to make informed decisions about their own health and well-being, and that of their families. My emphasis as Minister for Health is on health prevention, and this measure will play an important role in that regard. The ban will be enforced by the Environmental Health Officers of the HSE’s Environmental Health Service.

“We have great support among the stakeholders including the HSE, Environmental Health Association of Ireland, Irish Cancer Society and Marie Keating Foundation. They have worked with my Department to raise awareness of skin cancer prevention. This is exactly the type of approach we want to take, as set out in Healthy Ireland. I also want to pay tribute to all the work conducted on this area by my predecessor, James Reilly.

Minister Varadkar urged parents to take the initiative and protect their children from the harmful effects of sunbathing and sunbeds. The Irish Cancer Society’s Sunsmart code provides useful advice for when the UV Index is at 3 or higher.

Skin cancer is projected to be the most rapidly increasing cancer over the coming decades. It will undoubtedly threaten Ireland’s future health and wellbeing and will prove extremely costly for the health services. It is therefore essential that skin cancer prevention is addressed now or the next generation will face a future defined by rising ill health and potential crippling health costs.

Dr Susan O Reilly, Director, National Cancer Control Programme, welcomed the introduction of the Sunbed Legislation, particularly the ban on the under 18 year age group. She also stressed “how important it is for adults never to use a sunbed so as to reduce their risk of getting a melanoma. Melanoma is the most serious form of skin cancer in Ireland and the numbers of new cases are increasing every year. People with moles should check them regularly and see their GP if they notice any changes, such as, increasing size, changing colour or irregular edges”.

The HSE Environmental Health Service who are the enforcement officers for the new Act have extensive experience in working with businesses to enforce such public health legislation. Dr Maurice Mulcahy Regional Chief Environmental Health Officer said “We will be making contact with all sunbed businesses known to us over the coming weeks with a view to explaining what is required by the new Public Health (Sunbeds) Act 2014 and how they can ensure they comply. Anyone seeking further information can visit the HSE website (”

Caitriona Stack, Chair of the Environmental Health Association of Ireland (EHAI), the body representing environmental health professionals, reiterated their support on the commencement of the prohibition on the use of, hire or sale of sunbeds to children under 18 years of age. “Environmental Health Officers of the HSE have a proven track record in the implementation of similar bans; most notably the ban on the sale of tobacco products to children under 18 years of age and our members are ready and willing to enforce the provisions of the Sunbed Act 2014 commencing on the 21st of July.”

Kathleen O’Meara, Head of Advocacy and Communications at the Irish Cancer Society said “We are delighted that this legislation is coming into force. Every year, up to 28,000 children and young people risk their lives in search of a tan. The link between sunbeds and skin cancer is clear – the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) has placed sunbeds in the highest cancer risk category. This means that sunbed use is as carcinogenic as tobacco or plutonium. It is our hope that this legislation will mark a turning point in attitudes to using sunbeds in Ireland.”   Helen Forristal, nurse manager at the Marie Keating Foundation “welcomes this important legislation banning the use of sun beds for under 18’s. As part of its Sun Safe Skin Cancer Campaign, the Marie Keating Foundation’s nursing team are raising awareness about the risks associated with the use of sunbeds and highlighting the importance of sun safe measures throughout Ireland during the summer months”.

Note for Editors

The Public Health (Sunbeds) Act, 2014

The Public Health (Sunbeds) Act 2014 was signed into law by President Higgins. From Monday, 21 July 2014, it will be an offence for a sunbed business to:-
· sell or hire a sunbed to any person under 18 years of age;
· allow a person under 18 years of age use a sunbed on a sunbed premises;
· sell the use of a sunbed on a sunbed premises to a person under 18 years of age ;
· allow a person under 18 years of age to be in a restricted area unless in the course of their employment.

Work is continuing in the Department in relation to the next phase of the commencement of the sunbeds legislation. This includes requirements relating to:
· Prohibition on unsupervised use of sunbeds;
· Protective eyewear;
· Prohibition of certain marketing practices;
· Prohibition on health claims; · Warning signs;
· Health information.

Prior to commencement of the above provisions, it will be necessary to prepare and publish guidance and guidelines and for the Minister to make and publish a number of Regulations in relation to the above.

Evidence base Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer in Ireland and is a particular problem for Irish people because of their fair skin. For most, the main source of exposure to ultraviolet radiation is the sun. However, many people are exposed to high doses of ultraviolet radiation through artificial sources. Sunbeds and sunlamps used for tanning purposes are the main source of deliberate exposure to artificial ultraviolet radiation. All forms of such radiation contribute to skin cancer. 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.

In 2009, the World Health Organisation’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) reclassified sunbed use from a group 2A carcinogen – one that is probably carcinogenic to humans – to a group 1 carcinogen – one that is carcinogenic to humans. This means that ultraviolet radiation is a group 1 carcinogen which is carcinogenic to humans and which will cause cancer.

· According to figures produced by the National Cancer Registry there were over 10,000 cases of skin cancer in 2011.
· There are over 850 new cases of melanoma in Ireland each year.
· Over 150 Irish people die each year from melanoma.
· There were over 7,000 people alive with this type of cancer in 2011.
· Data from the HSE indicates that the cost of treating skin cancer ranges from €6,000 to €10,000 per patient depending on the complexity of the disease. Recently new high oncology drugs such as Ipilimumab and Vemurafenib (an oral BRAF inhibitor) have become available for patients with progressive melanoma. The cost of these treatments can range from €50,000 to €100,000 per patient. There are around 60-80 patients per year with such advanced melanomas.
· The incidence of cancer in Ireland is expected to double by 2040 and the fastest growing number of cancers are expected to be skin cancers.

Sunsmart Code
The steps involved in the Code are:
1. Seek shade – especially from 11am to 3pm
2. Cover up – with clothes and a hat
3. Wear wraparound sunglasses – make sure they give UV protection
4. Wear sunscreen
– adults SPF 15 or higher and UVA protection
– children SPF 30 or higher and UVA protection

UV Index
The UV index forecasts the index across a number of locations for the following 4 days and is available from the following webpage: ·