Under-18s to be banned from using sunbeds

Under-18s are to be banned from using sunbeds under new legislation passed by Parliament. Tanning salons will also have to be manned, meaning that coin-operated booths will be outlawed after several children suffered serious burns after using them without supervision.

The legislation, which was introduced as a Private Members Bill by Julie Morgan, MP for Cardiff North, was passed in the final days before Parliament is dissolved for the general election. It brings England and Wales into line with Scotland, where a ban on under-18s has already been accepted.

Sunbeds are considered as dangerous as smoking for causing cancer, having been reclassified by the International Agency for Research on Cancer. Use of sunbeds, particularly by those aged under 35, significantly increases the risk of malignant melanoma, the most lethal form of skin cancer. Recent research in the British Medical Journal found that 250,000 children between the ages of 11 and 17 regularly use sunbeds.

Dr Mark Goodfield, consultant dermatologist and president of the British Association of Dermatologists, said: "Sun and sunbeds can be enormously damaging. At the very least they age the skin prematurely, causing early wrinkling and age spots. Skin cancer is also a very real threat to all ages, and is still the biggest killer of young people. Sunbeds undoubtedly have a role to play in this."

The new legislation is due to come into force next year.