Clause 5

Part of Sunbeds (Regulation) Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 5:45 pm on 10 February 2010.

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Photo of Julie Morgan Julie Morgan Labour, Cardiff North 5:45, 10 February 2010

The clause gives the power to ensure that information is provided to sunbed users. It will be necessary for sunbed businesses to provide and display information about the health risks of using sunbeds. Regulations, if introduced, will also ban sunbed businesses from promoting the use of sunbeds as healthy. They should be prohibited from promoting unproven health benefits. The information that has already been mentioned in the debate is essential, not just for under-18s, but for people of all ages.

Sunbeds have been linked to various poor health conditions, including eye damage, photodermatosis, photosensitivity, premature skin ageing and skin cancer. People cannot always see straight away the damage that ultra-violet light does: the point has been made strongly that it builds up gradually and may be causing damage for years ahead. SunSmart, the UK’s national skin cancer prevention programme, says that

“short periods of intense, irregular UV exposure, like you get on a sunbed, are the fastest way to damage your skin”.

That happens whether the user burns or not.

It is crucial that accurate health information is provided to users of a salon, so that adults can make informed choices about the risks to their health if they decide to use a sunbed. The Bill would introduce a measure to provide health information in sunbed salons, via regulations, which I strongly commend.

Promoting unsupported benefits of sunbeds is irresponsible when we know that they significantly increase the risk of malignant melanoma, the most dangerous form of skin cancer, as well as prematurely ageing the skin. By using sunbeds people run the risk of sunburn and damaged skin for the sake of little protection against future sun exposure. Sunbeds are a not a safe way of building up vitamin D levels, as is often claimed. Other Committee members may be aware that some tanning salons have advertised to customers by saying, “Get your vitamin D here.”

This is an important part of the Bill. Along with legislation, it is important that children and other members of the public are made aware of the risks associated with the use of sunbeds. The national skin cancer prevention campaign called SunSmart, which is funded by the Department of Health and run by Cancer Research UK, aims to do that. It produces information warning of the risks associated with sunbed use. Ensuring that clear, accurate health information is displayed is another critical way to increase public knowledge about the dangers of sunbeds and to dispel some of the inaccurate myths that suggest that sunbed use is a safer alternative to the sun.