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Global Health Watch: Indoor tanning banned for under-18s in England and Wales

April 12, 2011|Janet Stobart, Los Angeles Times
  • Tanning bed modeled by employee at the U-Tan salon in Los Angeles. For English minors, indoor tanning is now illegal.
Tanning bed modeled by employee at the U-Tan salon in Los Angeles. For English… (Robert Gauthier )

LONDON - — It’s going to be hard for British teenagers to get a cheap winter tan as it’s now  illegal for under-18s in England and Wales to have access to potentially lethal indoor suntans.   Health clubs, gyms and tanning salons – any business that offers an artificial suntan -- will be fined up to $32,000 (£20,000) for allowing under-18s to use a tanning bed, according to a new law introduced this month.  

The Sunbed Regulation Act 2010 has been welcomed by doctors, nongovernmental cancer organizations and health campaigners. 

Tanning beds are used by 6% of young Britons, and in cloudier northern England an estimated 11% of 11-17-year-olds are regular sun bed users, says a leading British cancer charity, Cancer Research UK. The charity also says that every year more than 900 young people between age 14 and 34 are diagnosed with skin cancer.  At the rate of two a day, this figure has more than tripled since the late 1970s.

The World Health Organization has classified sun bed use alongside tobacco as one of the highest cancer risks, Cancer Research policy director Sarah Woolnough said in a BBC report.

Other groups say the law should go further.  In its present form, it doesn’t require salon users to provide ID; nor has it called for the same staff regulations and equipment as in Scotland, where the ban was introduced in 2009.  There, young people must carry ID and clinics are staffed at all times and provide eye protection and health advice.

In the U.S., minors can use tanning beds although some states require parental consent. Last year, an advisory panel for the Food and Drug Administration recommended a ban on indoor tanning for minors in the U.S.

Here's information from that agency on the risks of indoor tanning.

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