Date Published: 9 June 2010

Private Members' Bill introduced in Dáil with cross-party support to highlight urgent need for long awaited legislation banning sunbed usage in under 18 year olds

Health News from Ireland

Irish Cancer Society research shows 4% of population use sunbeds, 43% of users are female and under 34 years, 80% of people support a ban on sunbeds.

A Private Members' Bill to urge the government to introduce the long-awaited legislation banning sunbed usage in under 18 year olds is being launched in the Dáil by Labour’s Jan O’Sullivan and in the Seanad by Fine Gael’s Senator Frances Fitzgerald. The Bill, initiated by the Irish Cancer Society, has also attracted support from politicians from all parties. The Society has been advocating for this vital piece of public health legislation since 2006. The Bill will be introduced before the summer recess with a view to being debated in both Houses of the Oireachtas in the autumn.

The Irish Cancer Society has also revealed the findings of new consumer research it commissioned through Behaviour & Attitudes in April 2010 which show:

  • 4% of people aged 15+ in Ireland (i.e. 140,000 people) use sunbeds.
  • 88% of those who use sunbeds are women, and 20% are between the age of 15-24 years of age.
  • This means 28,000 young people under the age of 25 use sunbeds in Ireland.
  • 27,000 survey respondents report using sunbeds at least once a week.
  • Nearly 20% of total number of people in Ireland who use sunbeds use them once a week or more.
  • Two thirds of sunbed users first used a sunbed when under the age of 24 and 7% were under the age of 15.
  • 80% of people support a ban on sunbeds, whether a complete ban (43% in favour) or a ban for under-16 year olds (37% in favour).
  • 38% of sunbed users did not see guidelines posted or receive any verbal information on sunbed usage from the sunbed operator.

Kathleen O’Meara, Head of Advocacy and Communications, said that the total absence of any regulation of sunbeds in Ireland is a matter of major concern to the Cancer Society.

Research published a year ago by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) found a 75% increase in the risk of melanoma when people began tanning regularly under the age of 30. At the same time the Agency upgraded the health warning on sunbeds so they are now classed as being as carcinogenic as cigarettes. Latest data from the National Cancer Registry also show that in 2008, 752 new cases of melanoma were recorded. This is the most dangerous and difficult to treat form of skin cancer”, Ms. O’Meara said.

We are very pleased to have gotten the support of a number of politicians across all parties in Leinster House for this Private Members Bill, including Fianna Fáil Senator Cecilia Keaveney, Green Party Health Spokesman Senator Niall O’Brolcháín, Sinn Fein’s Deputy Caoimhin O’Caoláin, and Independent Deputy Maureen O’Sullivan.”

The absence of any controls or regulations on the use of sunbeds means that users, especially younger users, are being exposed to a very serious risk, and with the incidence of skin cancer increasing in Ireland, measures are now needed to protect young people and to ensure that adult users are fully aware of the risk they are taking.”

We know that the Minister for Health is committed to introducing legislation to regulate sunbeds, but it is an urgent matter and there is cross party support for such a measure. We hope the Minister will support this initiative to build support for legislation as a matter of urgency,” said Ms. O’Meara.

About an Irish Private Members’ Bill:

In Ireland, all proposals for new laws start life as Bills. Proposals initiated by the Government for laws that apply to the general public are called 'Public Bills'.
Private Members' Bills are initiated by members of Parliament (the Oireachtas) simply to draw attention to an issue or to focus public debate on a gap in the law.
A Private Member's Bill can be initiated by any member of either of the houses of Parliament (that is, the Dáil or Seanad), regardless of his or her political affiliation. Like Government legislation, the Private Member's Bill must be passed by both Houses of the Oireachtas to become law.


Source: The Irish Cancer Society..

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