Salons face £20 000 fine for allowing under 18s to use sunbeds

BMJ 2010; 340 doi: (Published 09 April 2010) Cite this as: BMJ 2010;340:c1973
  1. Clare Dyer
  1. 1BMJ

    A law banning people aged under 18 years from using sunbeds in England and Wales narrowly scraped through all its parliamentary stages just before parliament was dissolved for the 6 May UK general election.

    The Sunbeds (Regulation) Act, which started as a private member’s bill introduced by the Welsh MP Julie Morgan, survived the parliamentary “wash up” in which bills are rushed through before the axe falls.

    The legislation was backed by a wide range of professional organisations and health bodies, including the BMA, Cancer Research UK, and the British Association of Dermatologists. A similar law is already in force in Scotland.

    Among those who called for a ban was the pale skinned Girls Aloud singer Nicola Roberts, 24, who told how she felt under pressure as an insecure teenager to get a tan to look attractive.

    While making a television documentary, The Truth about Tanning, she spoke to an 11 year old who was able to go into an unsupervised tanning salon and a 14 year old who used a sunbed every day, sometimes twice.

    The bill was taken through the House of Lords by the independent peer Ilora Finlay, professor of palliative medicine at Cardiff University. She told peers during the second reading debate that malignant melanoma was the most common cancer among people aged 15 to 34 years.

    She pointed out that Belgium, Finland, France, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, the United States, Australia, and New Zealand already have legislation protecting under 18s from the dangers of sunbeds.

    A meta-analysis published in 2006 concluded that the risk of cutaneous melanoma was 75% higher among users of tanning devices who started before the age of 30 (International Journal of Cancer 2006;120:1116-22, doi:10.1002/ijc.22453).

    The act makes it an offence for tanning salon operators to allow anyone aged under 18 to use a sunbed, with a maximum fine on conviction of £20 000 (€23 000; $31 000).

    It also provides for ministers to make regulations for further restrictions banning under 18s from hiring or buying sunbeds, ensuring that all sunbed salons are staffed, requiring salons to display health information and provide eye protection, and preventing operators from making unsupported claims about the benefits of sunbeds.


    Cite this as: BMJ 2010;340:c1973