Plymouth tanning salons still allow underage use

A high number of Plymouth tanning salons are still allowing underage use of sun beds.

In a recent test purchasing operation Public Protection officers visited a random selection of seven salons in the city, and staff in five of them did not challenge a 16-year-old volunteer about their age, despite the age limit being 18. Although the volunteer did not use the sunbed, they were given access to the bed, which is a criminal offence.

Councillor Dave Downie, Cabinet Member for Safer and Stronger Communities said: “I’m extremely disappointed with the results of this test purchase operation as businesses should be challenging young people about their ages. The salons that failed did not question the age of the person and none of them asked for ID.

“Plymouth has one of the highest rates of skin cancer in the country and if you use sunbeds before the age of 35 then you are 87 per cent more likely to get skin cancer compared to people who have never used a sunbed.  This is one area where businesses could help make a difference; sadly the majority of them in this instance failed our young people.”

A written warning will now be given to the salon owners who failed and formal action will be taken against any that have had a failure previously.

There are currently around 40 known premises with sunbeds in Plymouth, 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 Sunbeds Regulation Act 2010 has been in force since 2011 and all businesses have been given guidance and the opportunity to attend training.

Professor Kelechi Nnoaham, the Council’s Director of Public Health said: “Skin cancer is the second most common cause of cancer in 15 to 34 year olds and the law was introduced after a number of serious burns to children using sunbeds.

“A young person’s skin is more vulnerable to damage and they may not always appreciate 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.

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

For further information contact the Public Protection Service on 01752 304147 or email or