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Varadkar bans sun-beds for under 18s

Friday, July 18 14:52:05

Minister for Health Leo Varadkar has confirmed that people under 18 years of age will not be allowed to use sunbeds from next Monday.

"This is an essential step to protect children's health and wellbeing and an important preventative measure in terms of skin cancer, Minister Varadkar said.

"Skin cancer is the fastest growing cancer in Ireland. More than 850 new cases of melanoma are reported in Ireland each year, with 150 Irish people dying annually. This ban won't solve the skin cancer problem on its own, but we can achieve our goal if we work together and raise awareness.

"This ban applies to the use of sunbeds on commercial premises by those aged under 18. It will help people to make informed decisions about their own health and well-being, and that of their families. My emphasis as Minister for Health is on health prevention, and this measure will play an important role in that regard. The ban will be enforced by the Environmental Health Officers of the HSE's Environmental Health Service.

"We have great support among the stakeholders including the HSE, Environmental Health Association of Ireland, Irish Cancer Society and Marie Keating Foundation. They have worked with my Department to raise awareness of skin cancer prevention. This is exactly the type of approach we want to take, as set out in Healthy Ireland. I also want to pay tribute to all the work conducted on this area by my predecessor," James Reilly.

Minister Varadkar urged parents to take the initiative and protect their children from the harmful effects of sunbathing and sunbeds. The Irish Cancer Society's Sunsmart code provides useful advice for when the UV Index is at 3 or higher.

Skin cancer is projected to be the most rapidly increasing cancer over the coming decades. It will undoubtedly threaten Ireland's future health and wellbeing and will prove extremely costly for the health services. It is therefore essential that skin cancer prevention is addressed now or the next generation will face a future defined by rising ill health and potential crippling health costs.

Dr Susan O Reilly, Director, National Cancer Control Programme, welcomed the introduction of the Sunbed Legislation, particularly the ban on the under 18 year age group. She also stressed "how important it is for adults never to use a sunbed so as to reduce their risk of getting a melanoma. 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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