Too many Plymouth salons who allow children to use sun beds

Over 80 per cent of tanning salons allowed a 16-year-old to buy a sunbed session – despite the age limit being 18-years-old.

Public protection officers visited six salons in Plymouth last week during a test purchase operation and staff in five of them did not challenge 16-year-old volunteer about their age.
The volunteer did not use the sunbed but was given access to the bed, which is a criminal offence. The Sunbeds (Regulation) Act 2010 has been in force since 2011 and all businesses have been given guidance and the opportunity to attend training.

The business that passed had previously failed an operation but had attended training and tightened up their procedures.

Councillor Sue McDonald, Cabinet Member for Children, Young People and Public Health said: “This is far from acceptable. Salons may be busy, but staff are still not challenging young people about their age.

“Young people will lie about their age because they want to go on sunbeds, but it is the responsibility of the business to ensure they ask for ID.

“Plymouth has one of the worst rates of skin cancer in the country and it you use sunbeds before the age of 35 then you are 75 per cent more likely to get skin cancer. This is one area where businesses could help make a difference; sadly the majority in this instance failed our young people.”

Skin cancer is the second most common cause of skin cancer in 15 to 34-year olds. The law was introduced after a number of serious burns to children using sunbeds. Young people’s skin is more vulnerable to damage and they do not always understand the long term health effects from using sunbeds, which include cataracts, conjunctivitis and premature ageing of the skin, as well as sunburn and skin cancer.

Government advice is to avoid using sunbeds. People with fair, sensitive skin that burns easily or tans slowly should not use sunbeds. Those with a history of sunburn, particularly in childhood, or who have a large number of freckles or moles and/or red hair, should also avoid them.

There are currently around 40 known premises with sunbeds, although the number is likely to be higher as many beauty parlours, hairdressers and gyms install them and are not required to register with the Council.

The Council is currently offering all businesses free online underage sales training package. Anyone who looks under 25 years old must be asked for ID and businesses should only accept those with a PASS hologram eg driving licence, passport and citizen cards.

For further information contact the Public Protection Service on 01752 304141, email or visit