Helping you understand Welsh law

Sunbeds (Wales)

The use of sunbeds is controlled by the Sunbeds (Regulation) Act 2010; that Act confers extensive powers to make regulations, of which use has so far been made in relation to Wales but not England. There is no other specific relevant law, but the commercial (and some other) provision of sunbeds will attract laws relating to the provision of services and health and safety. The law specifically relating to sunbeds is entirely domestic and has no particular links to European Union law. There are no particular human rights implications. Each of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland has its own regime.

1. The commercial provision of sunbeds was not regulated by specific law until the passing of the Sunbeds (Regulation) Act 2010.

2. Even that is a relatively specific law aimed at the protection of young users.

3. The key features of the 2010 Act are an absolute prohibition on commercial provision of sunbeds to under-18s and the ability to introduce further regulation by secondary legislation.

4. Local authorities are made responsible for the enforcement of the 2010 Act and given appropriate powers.

5. General health and safety law and consumer protection laws will also apply to the commercial provision of sunbeds.

Sunbed Use by Under-18s

6. The main substantive provision of the 2012 Act is the regulation of the use of sunbeds on commercial premises by people under the age of 18.

7. The regulation is achieved by imposing a duty on the operators of sunbed businesses to ensure that under-18's do not use the sunbeds or access sunbed areas - s.2. This duty is enforced by a criminal offence which although triable summarily only carries, unusually, a maximum fine which is considerably in excess of the standard scale (see Standard scale) and presently stands at £20,000 - s.2(6).

Exemptions

8. The 2010 Act contains an exemption permitting the use of sunbeds by under-18's for the purpose of prescribed medical treatment - s.3. The exemption depends on the use of sunbeds in, or provided by, a healthcare establishment, which broadly speaking means a hospital. In Public Bill Committee on the Bill for the Act in the House of Commons the Member in Charge (Julie Morgan) said as follows: There are clearly some instances where the use of a sunbed, under strict supervision, is recommended by a health professional to treat skin conditions such as psoriasis. Any treatment must be under the supervision of a doctor and must be in a healthcare establishment in the NHS or the private sector. COMARE, which has already been mentioned a few times, and WHO recommend that medical treatment should take place in medical settings under clinical supervision. The clause will ensure that there is no loophole by which young people can gain access to sunbeds under false pretences (Hansard, HC Public Bill Committee, 1st Sitting, 10 February 2010, col.16.).

Power to Make Regulations

9. A key feature of the 2010 Act is that, although the substantive provision made by it is very limited, it confers wide powers to make secondary legislation introducing other aspects of regulation - s.4. The powers are mostly limited to regulation in relation to under-18s; but not entirely. There is power to make regulations about supervision of the use of sunbeds by anyone - s.4(1)(a), about the provision of information relating to the use of sunbeds - s.5, and about the use of protective eyewear - s.6.

10. The regulation-making powers have been exercised in relation to Wales but not in relation to England. The Sunbeds (Regulation) Act 2010 (Wales) Regulations 2011/1130: impose: a duty on a person who carries on a sunbed business on domestic premises to prevent sunbed use on those premises by persons aged under 18; a requirement for a person who carries on a sunbed business to supervise the use of sunbeds on the business's premises; a prohibition on the sale or hire of sunbeds to persons aged under 18; requirements for the provision of information to sunbed users; and requirements relating to the use of protective eyewear by sunbed users. Regulation 3 extends to sunbed businesses operating from domestic premises the duty set out in s.2 of the Act to prevent sunbed use by children. Regulation 4 provides that a person who carries on a sunbed business must secure that the use of the business's sunbeds on the business's premises are supervised. Regulation 5 prohibits the sale or hire of a sunbed to a person who is under 18. Regulation 7 provides that a person who carries on a sunbed business must provide health information to customers. Regulation 8 provides that a person who carries on a sunbed business must make appropriate protective eyewear available to customers. Regulation 9 makes it a duty of local authorities to enforce the Regulations in their respective areas and to appoint authorised officers for that purpose.

Enforcement

11. The 2010 Act does not create a separate licensing or enforcement regime; but it imposes a duty on local authorities to enforce it - s.7; (see: Local authorities). The Act requires local authorities to appoint enforcement officers - s.7. Since there is no licensing regime, there is no requirement for sunbed parlour operators to pay specific fees in connection with regulation under the Act; so although local authorities are under a duty to enforce, there is no separate revenue stream associated with the regulation of sunbed use, and it is therefore open to question whether much in the way of resources are likely to be available routinely for the enforcement of the Act.

Non-commercial Use

12. Non-commercial use of sunbeds is not regulated by the Act, and subject to one exception it imposes no restrictions on what people do in their own homes or otherwise than as part of a business. The one exception is that regulations under the Act are able to regulate how businesses supply equipment for use on domestic premises by under-18s - s.4(1)(b).

Self-regulation

13. The 2010 Act was generally presented as a measure resorted to by Parliament as the result of a failure by the sunbed industry to regulate itself. " I must point out strongly that the Bill is not regulation for the sake of it. The sunbed industry has already tried to self-regulate and it has failed. Self-regulation has not worked. The Bill is about protecting young people and giving people the information they need to make an informed choice. " (Hansard, HC Vol.504, col.1054 (29 January 2010)). .The sunbed industry does, however, have a trade industry, The Sunbed Association (TSA), which was set up in 1995; it is a non-statutory, non-profit making organisation, designed to represent operators, manufacturers and distributors of sunbeds and lamps. TSA states that its members are required to adhere to a non-statutory Code of Practice, which is said to be "based on both the European Standard: EN 60335-2-27 (drawn up by representatives from the medical and scientific professions and from industry) and the Health and Safety Executive Guidance Note "Reducing Health Risks from the use of (UV) Tanning Equipment". At the time of publication of this article, the Code was not available publicly on TSA's website, but was part of a members-only area.

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