People under the age of 18 will be banned from using sunbeds from Monday under measures announced by Health Minister Leo Varadkar
The new health minister said that the step was being taken to reduce the risk of young people getting skin cancer.
He said that fines of €4,000 and jail sentences would be in place for sunbed operators who broke the new rules.
The Irish Cancer Society has welcomed the changes and said that they hoped they would help prevent the disease, which is projected to become the most rapidly increasing cancer over the coming decades.
“Particularly when it comes to children, they need to be protected. It will no longer be possible for someone to hire a sunbed to a child,” said the minister.
“We are in the summer now and we send a very clear message to someone who has fair skin or pale skin who are at risk of skin cancer.
“There are some people who believe that pale skin isn’t healthy skin. That’s not true. To be pale is beautiful. Don’t feel that you need to get a tan and as a result give yourself skin cancer in the long term.”
Work is ongoing on the next phase of the department’s plan to regulate the use of sunbeds.
This includes a plans for a prohibition on the unsupervised use of sunbeds, the banning of certain marketing practices and the need for operators to have warning signs and health information.
Welcoming the new law, the Irish Cancer Society’s head of services Donal Buggy said: “It’s important for everybody to realise the steps that they can take to avoid skin cancer. We believe that this is really going to make a difference.”
Mr Varadkar said that 850 people are diagnosed with melanoma every year in Ireland and that 150 die.
Dr Susan O Reilly, director of the National Cancer Control Programme said: “Melanoma is the most serious form of skin cancer in Ireland and the numbers of new cases are increasing every year. People with moles should check them regularly and see their GP if they notice any changes, such as, increasing size, changing colour or irregular edges”.
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