Healthcare Policy and Strategy Directorate

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Healthcare Policy and Strategy Directorate
Healthcare Planning Division T: 0131-244 2352 F: 0131-244 2989 E:


Mr Fergus D Cochrane Clerk to the Public Petitions Committee The Scottish Parliament Edinburgh EH99 1SP

28 February 2008

Dear Mr Cochrane Consideration Of Petition PE931 I write to you with progress being made in respect of Petition PE931, as agreed at the meeting of the Public Petitions Committee on 4 December 2007 As the Committee will be aware, a marker provision was placed in the Public Health etc (Scotland) Bill to provide information on the health effects of sunbed use. The Scottish Government is concerned at the rise in skin cancer in Scotland. Over a 20 year period (1984-2004) the reported incidence of non-melanoma skin cancers has trebled and the incidence of melanoma skin cancers has more than doubled. Sunbed use provides a form of intense exposure to ultra violet light; just one session a month will double the average individual’s annual dose of ultraviolet radiation. Medical evidence on the use of sunbeds is increasing, with links to premature skin cancer, skin aging, eye damage, photodermatosis and photosensitivity. The Scottish Government were therefore keen to work with Kenneth Macintosh, who lodged a Members’ Bill on the issue last year, to bring forward suitable proposals to highlight the dangers of sunbed use to the public. We have agreed that the following provisions will be included in the Public Health Bill as Stage 2 handout amendments. The Minister for Public Health announced these to the Health and Sport Committee on 20 February. 1) A ban on operators from allowing the use of sunbeds by under 18s in commercial premises. This follows international evidence which suggests there is an increased risk of developing melanoma in people who first use sunbeds in their teens and early twenties, and a recommendation from the World Health Organisation (WHO) that young people under the age of 18 should not use sunbeds.


2) A ban on operators from allowing the unsupervised use of sunbeds. WHO recommends that the unsupervised use of sunbeds should be banned. Introducing such a ban will increase the level of health protection by reducing the incidence of inappropriate use of sunbeds and it will also help ensure that those under the age of 18 do not use unsupervised sunbeds as a way of circumventing the new legislation. 3) Sunbed operators to be required to provide sunbed users with a package of information on the dangers of sunbed use. This is in line with the current marker provision in the Bill, as introduced. Providing information to users about the health risks of using sunbeds will help to ensure that adults are able to make informed decisions regarding whether to use sunbeds or not. It is proposed that the package of information that sunbed operators are required to issue to sunbed users would be included in regulations, and this would be based on WHO advice. Failure to comply with these provisions will be a criminal offence and will be subject to a Fixed Penalty Notice or a fine on summary conviction. The legislation will also be supported by a communication campaign highlighting the dangers of sunbed use. I hope you find this information helpful. Yours sincerely