Majority of sunbed facilities not sticking to regulations
Around a third of tanning salons are not conducting age verification checks and the majority are not properly advising customers on the dangers posed by sunbeds despite strict new legislation.
Allowing children and young people under the age of 18 to use commercial tanning salons was outlawed in April last year, following lobbying by the CIEH.
But a survey carried out by the CIEH in Wales revealed 32 per cent of salons were not asking for customer’s ages.
Earlier this year a number of environmental health students working with CIEH in Wales visited more than 80 salons across 12 local authority areas.
The test purchasers conducted various ‘scenarios’ modelled on real-life situations, including posing as someone with a pre-existing skin condition or with a family history of skin cancer.
In 16 cases the researchers were given unrestricted access to sunbed facilities, compared to 21 instances where operators denied access.
It was found that 92 per cent of premises failed to carry out their full statutory requirements.
Nearly 50 per cent of salons did not display a Schedule 1 notice warning of the increased risks of skin cancer, eye damage and premature skin ageing.
Julie Barratt director of CIEH in Wales told EHN: ‘We’ve moved heaven and earth to inform businesses of their new responsibilities and provide training to salon staff.
‘The “softly-softly” approach can only be taken so far. If businesses continue to flout the law in this way, local authorities will probably consider undertaking prosecutions as the next step.’
Ms Barratt said the results of the survey were ‘alarming’.
She added: ‘These findings are very disappointing particularly as there were such high levels of compliance with the smoking regulations and display of signage when they were introduced.
‘I don’t understand why we’re not seeing the same level of compliance with the sunbed regulations. There’s an unrealistic level of confidence in sunbed supervisors’ ability to advise people – they just don’t know.’
‘The law is clear and very recent. There is no excuse for putting the health of young people at risk.’
Nearly 9,000 cases of malignant melanoma are diagnosed in the UK annually and more than 1,800 die from the disease each year. Using sunbeds from an early age increases the risk of malignant melanoma by around 75 per cent.
Tanning salon test purchases carried out in West Yorkshire last year also found that many businesses were not asking the age of children and young people.
Eleven out of 25 salons allowed a 14-year-old test purchaser access to tanning beds.