Banning of unsupervised sunbeds in Wales

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(Written on October 31st 2011.)

From today it will be illegal for under 18s to use sun-beds. A new legislation In Wales has banned unsupervised salons to protect young people from the risks of skin cancer.

 Under the new regulations salons must show posters with health warnings and will not be able to promote sunbeds as being good for you.

Businesses in Wales that don’t follow the rules could risk being fined up to 5000 pounds.

Our health correspondent Bethan Muxworthy has more:

So, Bethan, what exactly does this new regulation mean?

Well it’s very much the same idea as the ban on smoking in public places because it makes it harder for people to do the things that could harm them.

The Welsh Government regulation follows a three year campaign by Tenovus Cancer research to protect children by banning them from using sun-beds.

Even-though a ban was introduced in April to stop under 18’s using the tanning beds this didn’t stop them from going to coin-operated shops.

Children as young as ten could walk in, put their pocket money in the machines and go on for as long as possible.

I spoke to Doctor Ian Lewis, head of cancer research Tenovus and he says young children are more at risk:

How dangerous are sun-beds then, I mean people are still going on them so what effects can this actually have on their health?

Many people use sun-beds to get what they think is a natural all over tan, but the worry is many are unaware of the health risks.

Skin cancer is strongly linked to over-exposure to ultra-violet radiation through the use of sun-beds.

Even occasional use can result in prematurely aged skin, eye damage and suppression of the immune system.

Skin cancer is the most common cause of cancer in 15 to 24 year olds and South Wales has one of the highest incidences in the UK.

Doctor Ian Lewis tells us why these changes were needed:

The new rules will protect under 18’s so why does this campaign just focus on that age group?

This campaign focuses on young people because they’re vulnerable and are more likely to get skin cancer if they’re exposed to harmful UV rays.

The dangers of using sun-beds can be all too real especially without guidance.This was highlighted In 2009 when two teenage girls from South Wales were badly burnt using sun-beds.

A 14 year old was treated for first degree burns after spending 19 minutes on one, and a 10 year old received burns to 70% of her body.

The new regulation will stop cases like this from happening in the future.

What next? Will there ever be a complete ban?

For now the ban is for under 18s only, but by introducing these health warnings and not an overall sun-bed ban it is hoped that people should make the right decision.

The new measures emphasise that sun-beds are not a safe alternative to tanning and the Welsh Government will make the legislation as effective as they can to help save lives.

In the near future Cancer charities hope to educate people of all ages by offering them a guide on how to be safe in the sun and to prevent skin cancer.

That was Bethan Muxworthy reporting on the new ban on unmanned sunbeds in Wales.

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