Sunbeds: Young use Wales tanning salons without ID checks

  • Published
Media caption,

Footage from BBC Wales' X-Ray programme shows salons letting in two 17-year-olds with no ID checks

Tanning salons in Wales are breaking the law by letting under-18s use their sunbeds, an undercover BBC investigation has found.

Salons in Newport and Cardiff can be seen in footage from BBC Wales' X-Ray programme letting in two 17-year-olds with no ID checks.

Under-18s are banned from using sunbeds over concerns they can cause skin cancer.

Cardiff council said it would review tanning salon practices.

The ban on underage sunbed use has been in place in Wales since 2011.

Tanning shop owners who flout this law face fines or having their licences taken away.

It was introduced after Cancer Research UK said using a sunbed before the age of 35 significantly increases your chance of getting skin cancer.

But recent figures from England suggest thousands of children there are still using sunbeds.

As part of a BBC Wales undercover investigation, two 17-year-old girls visited 12 salons in south Wales.

Five salons took money from the girls and showed them how to use the sunbeds before the girls made their excuses and left.

Image caption,
Prof Christian Aldridge says families can be "unaware" their children are using sunbeds, believing salons are enforcing the law

A consultant dermatologist based at Prince Charles Hospital in Merthyr Tydfil said the number of young people he sees with skin issues suggests many are using sunbeds.

"We've had a considerable number of cases of particularly young women under 25 who've come in as a result of mole changes on their skin," Prof Christian Aldridge said.

"Sometimes other family members are unaware that they're using sunbeds because they're underage."

One young woman believes her skin cancer is the result of using sunbeds since she was underage.

Paris Tippett, 26, from Reading, Berkshire, said she noticed a new freckle on her leg after prolonged sunbed use and was subsequently diagnosed with stage two melanoma.

Her cancer treatment included having her lymph nodes removed, as well as skin on her leg.

Image caption,
Melanoma patient Paris Tippett said she started using sunbeds aged 16

She said she "may have even been 16" when she first started using tanning salons in England, where their use by under 18s was also made illegal in 2011.

"They used to ask you for your date of birth and I'd just say it and they'd let you go in and just believe it," she said. "So you just kind of practice a date of birth and there was no ID.

"I have [also] shown my sister's ID before and they just took me in."

That should not be happening, according to Julie Barrett, president of the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health.

She reviewed the footage of the 17-year-old girls paying for treatments at tanning salons in Wales and said in her view it shows multiple breaches of the regulations.

Image caption,
Julie Barrett from the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health said she believed the undercover footage shows illegal practices

"It doesn't matter how young people look or how old people look, the requirement is they produce ID," Ms Barrett said. "They weren't asked to and certainly there was no proof of ID and that's very concerning."

Cardiff and Newport councils were also asked about the alleged breaches.

Cardiff council said it takes the regulation of age-restricted products very seriously and will be reviewing the practices of tanning salons within their area to ensure compliance with the law.

Newport council urged anyone aware of underage tanning taking place to contact their environmental health team.

Sunbed Association chairman Gary Lipman said there was "absolutely no excuse for salons to allow under-18s access to a sunbed".

"Whilst many young people may look older than they are, it is the clear responsibility of the salon to ensure they have the appropriate protocols in place to prohibit underage use," he said.

"Thankfully the vast majority of the industry is run by professional operators who comply with the law."

  • Watch X-Ray on Monday 4 July at 20.00 on BBC One Wales, also on iPlayer.

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