A new law banning under 18s from using sunbeds in the North comes into force today.
Any business found to be allowing those under the age limit to use, buy or hire the equipment will be liable to prosecution, Stormont’s Health Minister Edwin Poots warned.
District councils are responsible for enforcing the new legislation.
“In Northern Ireland, the incidence of skin cancer cases has been increasing over the past 25 years,” said Mr Poots.
“It is now the most common form of cancer, accounting for 28% of all individuals diagnosed with cancer.
“Younger people under the age of 18 are particularly at risk as younger skin is more delicate and prone to damage than older skin. Sunbed users under the age of 35 have a 75% higher risk of developing malignant melanoma, the deadliest type of skin cancer.
“This legislation is a significant step towards protecting young people from the harmful UV rays generated by sunbeds. There is a misconception among young people that tanned skin looks healthier, but using sunbeds to achieve this can give you wrinkles and brown spots resulting in premature ageing, and increasing the risk of developing skin cancer.”
The legislation will also ensure those over 18 who wish to use sunbeds will be provided with information on the health risks. Sunbed premises will be required to display a notice warning of the risks of sunbed use.
Dr Carolyn Harper, Director of Public Health for the North, said: “Many people think having a tan makes them look healthier and more attractive, but we know having a tan is actually a sign that our skin is trying to protect itself from UV damage.
“The Public Health Agency welcomes the new law being launched by the health minister to help protect people, particularly under 18s, against the risk of developing skin cancer. The legislation also places a duty on the operator of sunbed premises to act responsibly.”