Crackdown bid on sunbeds operators

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Tanning bed in use © Evil Erin / Wikipedia / Creative Commons

Tanning bed in use © Evil Erin / Wikipedia / Creative Commons

The popularity of sunbed use in Liverpool, set against the increasing number of skin cancer patients, has forced the city council to campaign for more powers to license and regulate related businesses.

Public health, environmental health and trading standards experts joined together to support Liverpool City Council on Monday to help lobby the government, whilst emphasising the danger of using any unregulated salon.

In May this year, a campaign run by the council public health department, revealed that a staggering 80% of people did not associate sunbed use with the development of skin cancer, when in reality Cancer Research UK has established that there can be a causal link.

It is estimated that radiation levels in nine out of 10 sunbeds emit UV radiation above UK and EU limits. This type of non-compliance with equipment regulations, teamed with the age of the user and their skin type, is said to be why 2,000 people are dying each year as a result of malignant melanoma.

This has led to sunbeds being categorised as “Group 1” cause of cancer, by the World Health Organisation International Agency Research.

Video report by Niamh Conway, JMU Journalism TV

Chris Lomas, Head of Public Protection for Liverpool City Council, told JMU Journalism: “The difficulty at the moment from a regulation point of view is knowing who’s operating and where.

“I’ve no doubt there are a lot of good operators, and a lot of compliant operators, but there are also a lot of cowboys out there and it’s about identifying them.”

Chit Selvarajah, a representative of Cancer Research UK, said: “Sunbeds are dangerous even when they’re limited, and although there has been a decline in the use since the Sunbed (Regulations) Act 2010, from 2008 at 6.8% to 2012 at 4.5%, there still needs to be vast improvement.”

Conference at Foresight Centre campaigning for more powers to regulate sunbeds. Pic © JMU Journalism

Conference at Foresight Centre campaigning for more powers to regulate sunbeds. Pic © JMU Journalism

The council proposes that all premises offering the use of sunbeds will, by law, have to provide clear and correct information about the serious health dangers associated with their use.

Luciana Berger, MP for Liverpool Wavertree and Shadow Minister for Public Health, said: “This is a critical public health issue for our city and one that I’m glad Liverpool Council is taking so seriously.”

Councillor Roy Gladden, Assistant Cabinet Minister for Adult Social Care and Health, said: “Our job is to make sure the public know the risks; they have a right to protection. If it means legislation then that is what needs to happen.”

Meanwhile, Gill Perkins, speaking on behalf of the Sunbed Association, said: “We fully support this campaign – it’s saying everything that we’ve been ensuring for the past 20 years. Responsible tanning is at the heart of what we do.”

About Emily Lewis, JMU Journalism