Thursday 22 August 2019

'Prevention is better than cure' - Senator wants to cut VAT on sunscreen

Suncream remains the most important factor in preventing skin cancer. Photo: Andrey Popov
Suncream remains the most important factor in preventing skin cancer. Photo: Andrey Popov

Markus Krug

Fine Gael Senator Tim Lombard wants to reduce the VAT rate for suncream in order to combat skin cancer.

He endorses the new Government policy on skin cancer introduced by Minister Harris and wants to raise awareness for the issue.

“Hopefully now the policy is in place the Government will be able to reduce the VAT rate for sun cream and launch an awareness campaign to help drive down the 11,000 diagnoses we have here annually,” the Senator said.

Even though skin cancer has the highest number of new cases of all kinds of cancer every year in Ireland, Senator Lombard thinks that there has not been done enough about the issue.

“It is the first Government policy that focuses on skin cancer. The public campaign is one of the biggest parts of it. We need to get the information out in public to raise awareness.”

He thinks that cheaper sun cream products could “go some way to changing Irish people’s approach to the care of their skin.”

“It is about ensuring that sun screen and seeking shade on very sunny days are part of our daily routine. We are hoping to change the culture in Ireland.”

He stressed that the high VAT rate was the biggest obstacle on the way to a new culture regarding skin cancer prevention.

“Right now it is categorized as a luxury item with a 23 percent VAT rate. It should be like every other medication in our everyday life and have a lower VAT rate.”

“I don’t see value in the government putting large sums of money in the health service and on the other hand having huge VAT rates on something essential like sun cream,” he said.

Senator Lombard stressed the importance of prevention and regular check-ups by a doctor in order to combat the disease.

“We all know that prevention is better than cure, it is essential that people are armed with the knowledge and the tools to help them combat skin cancer.”

He added: “Remember it is vital that you check your skin regularly and bring it to the attention of your doctor if you’re concerned.”

Some groups should be especially aware of the dangers of too much sun exposure.

“Outdoor workers are especially at risk. It is about ensuring their health and safety. They should have to wear sun cream just like hard hats and safety vests.”

The motivation for his endorsement of the new policy is a deeply personal and tragic one.

“This new policy is very important to me as I lost my own brother Ger to skin cancer in 2009.  I hope it leads to less families having to go through similar loss,” said the Senator.

A mole on Ger Lombard’s arm had developed into skin cancer. He passed away after battling the disease for five years.

Senator Lombard sees the new policy as a step into the right direction but he acknowledges that there is more work to be done.

“This policy is a major step forward but we will continue fighting. We want to build on that and bring on real change about the issue.”

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