Sunbed summit seeks to ban tanning for under 16s

Cancer Research UK

Mothers worried about young teenage daughters endangering their health in tanning salons will get a reassuring pledge this Mothering Sunday.

Plans to stop sunbeds being used by the under-16s have been agreed by cancer experts and The Sunbed Asssociation (TSA).

The Association will meet skin cancer experts from Cancer Research UK at a summit next week to discuss how the tanning industry can adhere to stricter self-regulation in the wake of concern over sunbed use.

The charity and the Association are keen to ban unmanned coin-operated sunbed salons and would like to see all tanning salons registered with TSA and only providing approved sunbeds.

Both organisations are also calling for salons to insist on sunbed users reading information which offers advice to people with different skin types.

Sara Hiom, who co-ordinates Cancer Research UK's SunSmart campaign - a joint initiative with the government to raise awareness of skin cancer and encourage people to protect their skin in the sun - has welcomed the Sunbed Association's willingness to regulate the industry.

She says: "Cancer Research UK feels to call for a ban on sunbeds altogether would be unrealistic and not possible to police. It may even drive the industry 'underground' and result in only the least reputable tanning salons remaining.

"We would certainly like to see clear and strict guidelines for use wherever sunbed facilities are offered. This should include a list of those groups of people most at risk from sunbed use and strongly advising them against it.

"We would like to see an EU wide Code of Practice developed by a representative group of health professionals, scientists and members of the sunbed industry. We would also like to see all sunbeds manufactured and sold in Europe bearing a permanent statement warning of the risks associated with use."

Kathy Banks, secretary of the Sunbed Association, has welcomed Cancer Research UK's support: The Association is committed to self-regulation and responsible use of sunbeds," she said.

"As part of our Code of Practice under-16s are not allowed to use sunbeds. We know there are non-member operators out there who ignore some or, even worse, all safety guidelines. Customers need to be given proper advice and information about using sunbeds responsibly.

At present we have around 2000 members which represents around 25 per cent of tanning facilities in the UK. We would like to see all operators working to our Code which would ensure high standards of operation and responsible use by customers."

Research continues to investigate how and why skin cancer develops. But scientists believe that unrestricted use of sunbeds works in the same way as irresponsible behaviour in the sun and that both these practices can increase skin cancer risk.

Between 1995 and 2000 malignant melanoma - the potentially fatal form of skin cancer - increased by 24 per cent. Around 7,000 cases of melanoma are diagnosed each year and there are about 1,700 deaths from the disease.

More than 62,500 cases of non-melanoma skin cancer are registered in the UK each year.

ENDS

Notes to Editor

Melanoma is the third most common cancer among people aged 15-39 and early detection is crucial for successful treatment.

Cancer Research UK's SunSmart campaign is currently in talks with the Department of Health, NRPB (National Radiological Protection Board), UK Skin Cancer Working Party, British Association of Dermatologists, ICNIRP (International Commission for Non-Ionising Radiation Protection) and The Sunbed Association to discuss the best way forward for highlighting the dangers of sunbed and sunbathing and restricting use in the young, while acknowledging that informed adults need the best advice about more sensible use.

The Sunbed Association is a non-profit making organisation whose primary aim is to promote consistent good practice in the use of sunbeds.