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Friday, 20 February 2009

Kirsty’s case highlights the need for better regulation of tanning salons

Another example in the media this week of where the hope of a golden glow’s turned into red raw skin and hospitalisation. Kirsty’s case provides a harsh and unfortunate lesson and sends a clear message that politicians need to take action to regulate the sun bed industry in Wales and across the UK.

BMA Cymru has campaigned on the regulation of sun beds for sometime now. We’ve called on the Welsh Assembly Government to introduce a new Measure on this issue and to make councils regulate cosmetic tanning salons. One of our recommendations has been to ban coin-operated and unmanned sun beds outright, exactly the sort of place where Kirsty was able to spend an incredible 19 minutes burning her skin.

It’s deeply concerning that children and young people can use these sun beds without supervision or guidance. What’s happened to Kirsty shows what short-term damage can be done to our skin from intense UV exposure – the long term damage is far worse. And children are especially vulnerable to UV rays, as exposure at this young age, dramatically increases the chances of developing skin cancer in adulthood.

I hear from BMA members who are seeing more and more young patients with skin cancer, particularly young women, who are frequent sun bed users.

By introducing a Welsh Law the Welsh Assembly Governments has a golden opportunity to steal a march on this issue, which will have a dramatic impact on skin cancer prevention efforts and reduce the number of patients who are seeking treatment for burns and accidents due to the misuse of unsupervised equipment.

Here’s what the BMA wants a Welsh Law to cover;
• Prevent the use of sun beds by children
• Protect adults from over-exposure
• Ensure that sun bed users are supervised
• End the use of coin-operated machines
• Ensure that sun bed sessions are monitored and limited
• Provide health risk information in sun bed parlours
• Inspect premises

My message is to avoid using a sun bed at all – if you want a tan and a healthy glow, fake it and get it out of a bottle, not a sun bed!

And I would like to wish Kirsty a full and complete recovery. If anything good has come out of this, it has raised this issue and given her the chance, first hand, to warn other young people of the dangers of sun beds and excessive exposure to UV light. Hopefully they will learn from Kirsty's frightening experience.

It would be great to know what you think about this issue, feel free to share your thoughts on my blog, click on the comment link underneath this post.

1 comment:

  1. Do you have any actual evidence - other than anecdotal - that this is a growing problem?

    Are the number of people injured as a result of sun beds actually recorded and, if so, what are the numbers?


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