Leo Varadkar confirms sunbed ban comes into operation from next Monday

It will be an offence to allow a person under 18 years of age use a sunbed

It will be an offence for a sunbed business to sell or hire a sunbed to anyone aged under 18.

It will be an offence for a sunbed business to sell or hire a sunbed to anyone aged under 18.

Fri, Jul 18, 2014, 16:21

A ban on under-18s using sunbeds will come into place next Monday, Minister for Health Leo Varadkar has confirmed.

Under the Public Health (Sunbeds) Act, it will be an offence for a sunbed business to sell or hire a sunbed to anyone aged under 18, or to allow a young person to use a sunbed.

“This is an essential step to protect children’s health and wellbeing and an important preventive measure in terms of skin cancer,” Mr Varadkar said.

Skin cancer is the fast growing cancer in Ireland, with more than 850 new cases of melanoma a year and 150 deaths. HSE data shows the cost of treating skin cancer ranges from €6,000 to €10,000 a year. Some patients are on advanced new cancer drugs costing up to €100,000 per patient.

The Department of Health is planning further restrictions on sunbed use, including a ban on unsupervised use, some marketing techniques and health claims.

Mr Varadkar said people with fair or pale skin were particularly at risk if they exposed their skin to the sun without protection. “To be pale is to be beautiful. Don’t feel you have to get a tan,” he advised.

Mr Varadkar said he wasn’t surprised by research findings which show that four out of five over-50s are overweight or obese. He said it was pretty clear that Ireland as a country was overweight and people were putting themselves at much greater risk of illness, especially in later life.

The vast majority of people could address the issue through lifestyle change and more exercise, he said. “There are a lot of measures in place and more coming, but the Government can’t make you skinny. At the end of the day, it’s important that people modify their lifestyles and avoid unnecessary illness.”

Asked about the suspension this year of gastric band surgery of morbidly obese patients at St Vincent’s hospital, he said this wasn’t a cut as the same number of operations nationally was taking place this year as last year.

On the introduction of a sugar tax, he said he wasn’t in favour of more taxes and would need to be convinced by international experience before considering such a move.