Sunbeds and Sunbed Premises: Public Health Information

Having tanned skin all year round is a very popular look in Ireland and while it can be achieved through creams and spray tans, is still often sought through visits to tanning booths and sunbeds. While the perception is that the tanned look is healthy, it is ironic that tanned skin is in fact damaged skin. Skin cancer is the most common cause of cancer in Ireland. Figures indicate that there are approximately 8000 cases of non melanoma skin cancer every year and 800 cases of malignant melanoma. However, the good news is that skin cancer is a highly preventable form of cancer.

Surveys undertaken by the Environmental Health Association of Ireland and the Irish Cancer Society have demonstrated that 7% of the population use sunbeds with 3% using them as frequently as once a week. International research documented in Standards Australia 2002 show that sunbeds can emit Ultraviolet Radiation (UV) radiation up to 5 times as strong as the Australian midday sun and therefore their use can substantially increase the risk of developing skin cancer. The International Agency for Research on Cancer has concluded that the risk of cutaneous melanoma is increased by 75% when the use of tanning beds starts before 30 years of age. It subsequently raised the classification of the use of UV tanning devices to Group 1 - namely, 'carcinogenic to humans'.

The Public Health (Sunbeds) Act 2014, (No. 12 of 2014) was signed into law on 24 June 2014. This Legislation is enforced by the Environmental Health Service of the HSE. These legislative provisions are welcomed by the HSE as an important measure to provide the supportive environment needed to advance the vision of Healthy Ireland and are designed to both protect young people and promote more informed a more choice amongst adults, in relation to the use of sunbeds.

The Public Health (Sunbeds) Act 2014 provides for the following:

  • No persons under the age of 18 years of age will be allowed to use a sunbed on a sunbed premises.
  • No persons under the age of 18 years will be permitted entry into a restricted area in a sunbed premises.
  • No person under the age of 18 years of age will be allowed to either purchase or hire a sunbed.
  • The owner, manager or employee of a sunbed business must ensure that any person using, hiring or purchasing a sunbed is 18 years of age and over and has valid identification to prove this
  • Prohibition of unsupervised use of a sunbed
  • Notification of sunbed businesses to the HSE
  • Prohibition of certain marketing practices, such as 'happy hour' or free sunbed time
  • Provision of health information by operators for all users of sunbed premises
  • Provision of warning signs by operators
  • Provision of protective eyewear for all sunbed users

Sunbed premises can view the legislation in full, and download the necessary signage and warning signs from the Department of Health's Website.

The objectives of the Act are:

  1. to protect children and those under 18 years of age from the risk of skin damage, in view of their increased risk of developing skin cancer;
  2. to regulate the use of sunbeds by those over 18 years of age so as to reduce their likelihood, inter alia, of developing skin cancer, premature aging and damaging their eyes from exposure to ultraviolet radiation (UVR); and
  3. to generally promote a greater public awareness across all age groups, with a long term view to reduce the incidence of skin cancers

This suite of regulations will now require sunbed users to be properly informed by the premises or operator regarding the health risks related to sunbed usage, to be provided with protective eyewear and to be protected from any marketing practices which may encourage excessive use.

The HSE is actively engaging locally with Sunbed Business Operators to advise and explain how they can comply with these new legal requirements.

Notification Process

Section 13 of the Public Health (Sunbeds) Act 2014 and regulations made thereunder (Sunbed Notification Regulations 2015) require all Sunbed Business Operators to notify their premises to the HSE annually on or before the 1st March and to pay a fee.

This fee is €120 in respect of each premises

The purpose of the fee is to

  • Establish and maintain the Sunbed Business Notification List
  • To contribute to the expenses of carrying out investigations, and
  • To enforce the Act

It is an offence not to notify the HSE of the sunbed business. Failure to notify the HSE may result in the service of a Fixed Payment Notice (with a fine of €300 per offence) and/or prosecution.

You may notify your business using the secure HSE ON-Line Portal by clicking ehonline.hse.ie

You may also notify your business by contacting the Sunbed National Office, Environmental Health Service, HSE Galway Business park, Dangan, Galway. Telephone: 091 737350. Please have your credit/debit card details available to make payment. In the event that you wish to speak to a member of the National Sunbed Group or confirm that your business details are on the National Database - please contact us at sunbeds@hse.ie with your name, phone number, sunbed business name and sunbed business address.

Enquiries or complaints in relation to non-compliance can be directed to:

Sunbed National Office

Environmental Health Service HSE,

Galway Business Park

Dangan,

Galway

The email address is sunbeds@hse.ie

The phone number is 091 737350

For more information: