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Harney to ban use of sunbeds for under-18s

A BAN on the use of sunbeds by those under 18 will be part of a new Bill being introduced by Health Minister Mary Harney.

Ms Harney said the new measures will also restrict the sale or hiring of sunbeds and will ban unsupervised use of the beds in a commercial setting.

Premises which offer tanning bed services to the public will have to carry warning signs and the owners of these businesses will have to register with the HSE.

Some exemptions will be made where the use of sunbeds is required for medical purposes and the new Bill will include enforcement provisions and penalties for non-compliance.

The minister revealed details of the new Bill in response to a query from Labour deputy Pat Rabbitte.

A recent EU survey of 500 sunbeds at more than 300 locations found that one in seven breached safety limits.

There is no legislation in Ireland governing sunbeds, although it has been long promised, particularly regulations banning under-18s from using them. The EU survey found there was too little guidance for the public on the hazards of using sunbeds.

There were insufficient warnings on the sunbeds themselves about the dangers, such as stating that UV radiation may cause cancer.

"I am concerned a high percentage of sunbeds and sunbed services were found not to respect safety rules," said EU health commissioner John Dalli.

"This is an important health concern since the incidence of skin cancer is doubling every 15 to 20 years."

The first stage of a Bill aimed at preventing the use of sunbeds by under-18s was passed in Northern Ireland earlier this month.