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First prosecution under sunbed act

Tom Wall30/01/2013 - 13:00

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The girl was severely burnt
The girl was severely burnt

A former gym owner is thought to have become the first person to be successfully prosecuted since the ban on children using sunbeds came into force in April 2011.

Stewart Hall was fined £500 and order to pay costs of £1,500 this week after a 15-year-old girl was severely burnt in a token-operated sunbed at the Olympic Power Mill, Hornby Street, Bury.

The girl was hospitalised for 24 hours and missed three weeks of school after she used a sunbed in Mr Hall’s gym on two consecutive days in May.

She was not asked to prove her age or given eye protection goggles.

Mr Hall, who has sold the gym since the accident, pleaded guilty to three charges under the Sunbed (Regulation) Act 2010, which prohibits under-18s from using sunbeds.

He accepted he had allowed a child to use a sunbed and allowed another child to be in the same room as a sunbed.

Businesses can be fined up to £20,000 for breaching the act but Mr Hall had debts of £3,000.

Rob Hall, Bury senior EHO, told EHN that businesses who offer sunbeds for use must ensure users are aged over 18 and adopt an appropriate method of checking and recording ages.

‘In this case a 15-year-old girl ended up in hospital for 24 hours with severe burns and 15 days off school. This highlights the severity that sunbeds can have on the skin if used inappropriately,’ he said.

Graham Jukes, CIEH chief executive, said the prosecution would act as a deterrent.

‘I hope this successful prosecution by Bury Council will act as a deterrent to any tanning salon that is not rigorously obeying the law, unfortunately it is too late for the young victim at the centre of this case,’ he said.

Sara Osborne, head of policy at Cancer Research UK, said the case demonstrated the importance of enforcing the ban on under-18 sunbed use.

‘As local authorities prepare to take responsibility for public health, it is right that they take the issue of sunbed use seriously. Enforcing this ban is necessary to protect children from sunbeds since using sunbeds before the age of 35 increases a person’s risk of malignant melanoma, the deadliest kind of skin cancer, by 59 per cent,’ she said.

UV tanning can cause injuries and ill health either in the short term such as sunburnt skin or conjunctivitis or in the long term such as premature skin ageing, skin cancer and cataracts.

Exposure before the age of 35 years significantly increases the risk of several types of skin cancer.

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