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Thursday, 3 September 2009

Vale of Glamorgan Council sees sunbeds sense

Congratulations to the Vale of Glamorgan Council on making the right decision and removing the five sunbeds it operates in leisure centres across the county.

We have recently criticised the council for dragging its feet over the enforcement of a recommendation to remove the sunbeds, so it’s great that the Council Executive has finally seen sense and resolved to get rid of them.

The Vale Council was the last Local Authority in South Wales to operate sunbeds.

It should never have had sunbeds on its premises. The fact that an attractive £15,000 profit was made annually for the council might go some way to explain the delay in removing them.

This decision is an extremely important one in terms of promoting local public health and wellbeing and it also helps to spread the message about the dangers of sunbeds and UV exposure. A message which both Flintshire and Wrexham – who are the only local authorities left in Wales still to operate sunbeds in their leisure centres – would do well to listen to.

The BMA will continue to call for these two remaining Local Authorities in North Wales to remove the sunbeds they run. They should be leading on health protection; operating sunbeds is simply reckless and irresponsible.

Leisure centres should be places of health, recreation and well-being, not places which provide facilities that are so damaging to a person’s health. Just one session a month will double the average individual's annual dose of UV radiation and this has been proven to greatly increase the risk of cancer, skin and eye problems in later life.

The view of the BMA has always been that there is no such thing as a safe tan (unless it comes out of a bottle). When a tan fades the damage to your skin remains. We want to see tighter regulation of the sunbed industry and a ban on coin-operated, unmanned salons. When we give evidence to the National Assembly’s Health Committee later this month that’s exactly what we’ll be calling for.

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