Council concern at underage use of sunbeds as businesses fined

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Four businesses in the Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough were recently issued with a £250 fixed penalty fine for allowing a person under the age of 18 to use a sunbed, with council urging young people and parents to consider the potential health risks with the tanning beds.

It is illegal for under-18s to use a sunbed on commercial premises, and it is the responsibility of the local council to enforce these laws. Whilst most businesses visited in the Borough were compliant and aware of the requirements, a spokesperson for ABC Council said there was still significant use of sunbeds by young people despite the awareness of risks.

“Using a sunbed, even once at any stage during your life increases your risk of developing melanoma by 20% compared to someone who has never used a sunbed. And this risk increases by 1.8% with each additional time you use a sunbed,” they said.

“NI surveys indicate that members of the public are aware of the risks of using sunbeds, but many still use them, with 10% of our young people aged 11-16 having reported using a sunbed.  Over a third (33.9%) of these have used them in sunbed premises, while 39.8% have used them in a home environment. Around half of respondents did not use protective goggles when using a sunbed.”

Businesses that don’t follow the law on sunbeds are issued with a fixed penalty notice (£250) and non-payment can result in a court case, and if convicted, can result in a fine up to £5,000.

The Council have said they want to remind sunbed operators of their duty under the Sunbeds Act (Northern Ireland) 2011, and they also want to make parents/guardians of under 18’s aware of the requirements – which they can do by visiting the council’s website – www.armaghbanbridgecraigavon.gov.uk/business/sunbed-safety

Skin cancer is the most common cancer in Northern Ireland. Around 4,210 people develop skin cancer each year (both melanoma and non-melanoma), accounting for over 31% of all cancers diagnosed here.

Research shows that you don’t need to be sunbathing to get skin cancer; it’s over-exposure to ultraviolet radiation (UVR) from the sun or sunbeds which can cause serious damage over time. It’s important for everyone to avoid getting sunburned, particularly children.

If you have any concerns about a sunbed business in your area, please contact the Environmental Health Department at the Council on 0330 056 1011.