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Sunbeds

Volume 486: debated on Wednesday 14 January 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) what research he has commissioned on the regulation of the sunbed industry in other countries for benchmarking purposes in the last two years; (246160)

(2) what discussions he has had with the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government on (a) the use of sunbeds in the health and fitness facilities operated by local authorities and (b) the risks associated with such use;

(3) what representations he has received on (a) the health risks associated with sunbeds and (b) the regulation of the sunbed industry in the last 12 months;

(4) what recent meetings his Department has had with representatives of the sunbed industry on options for sunbed regulation;

(5) what options are being considered for regulation of (a) the sunbed industry and (b) sunbed usage by persons under 18 years of age;

(6) what progress has been made since the Cancer Reform Strategy was published in December 2007 on (a) reviewing options for regulation of the sunbed industry, (b) gathering information on the number and distribution of sunbeds and (c) gathering information on the scale of sunbed use by minors.

The Department regularly receives Parliamentary questions and correspondence from hon. Members and other interested parties regarding the health risks of sunbeds including, in some cases, requests for the regulation of the sunbed industry. Such requests are considered in the context of the ongoing review of options for possible regulation of the sunbed industry, including access to sunbeds by young people. The review has been broad-ranging in its scope and, as part of it, officials from the Department and other Government departments, including Communities and Local Government, have discussed issues concerning the use of sunbeds in different types of facilities and settings.

Since the publication of the Cancer Reform Strategy, the Department has also worked with the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and other stakeholders (including some representatives of the sunbed industry) on the HSE's review of its guidance for users and operators of sunbeds. HSE expect to publish the guidance and a summary of the consultation responses early in 2009.

In conducting its review of options, the Department has drawn on a range of evidence from this country and abroad. For example, in 2007, the Welsh Assembly Government, supported by the Scottish Executive, National Health Service NI and the English Department of Health have requested that the Committee on Medical Aspects of Radiation in the Environment update their advice regarding the safety of ultra violet sunbeds in the United Kingdom. A report is expected in 2009.

The Department has also taken steps to gather further information on the number and distribution of sunbeds, and on the extent of sunbed use by young people, as mentioned in the Cancer Reform Strategy.

All of these will inform considerations on options for the possible regulation of the sunbed industry.