HEALTH Minister James Reilly aims to have the first law banning sunbeds for under-18s in place before the First Holy Communion season.
Dr Reilly was before the committee to push forward the passage of the Public Health (Sunbeds) Bill 2013, which will introduce curbs in the use of tanning machines.
However, he said adults could not be banned from engaging in risky behaviour and using sunbeds, even if they had fair skin.
He was responding to calls by members of the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Health and Children to stop adults with fair skin using sunbeds, which can cause cancer.
Dr Reilly said while he agreed with members of the committee about the dangers posed to adults with fair complexions using the tanning machines he could not stop them – no more than he could ban people from smoking or excessive drinking.
Sinn Fein TD Caoimhghin O Caolain said he would be bringing forward amendments at the report stage of the bill to prohibit the use of sunbeds by people with the fairest skin.
Salon owners would be required to assess a potential customer's skin type and it may be necessary for somebody with pale skin to get a certificate from their doctor before being allowed use a sunbed.
Dr Reilly said he would be careful to ensure that the new legislation would require warnings about the use of sunbeds at every stage of the process but adults had to "make a decision for themselves".
He intends to launch a public awareness campaign when the legislation is passed and he hopes to have it through before the first round of First Holy Communion ceremonies, which take place next month.