Despite a law being introduced in April this year that bans under 18s from using sunbeds, nearly half of 25 salons visited in a test purchase operation in West Yorkshire allowed a 14-year-old girl to use their tanning services.
Under the Sunbeds (Regulation) Act 2010, anyone who owns a sunbed business that allows an under-18 to use a sunbed is committing an offence and is liable to pay a fine of up to £20,000.
Trading Standards officers in West Yorkshire set up a test purchase operation to ensure that businesses are complying with the new legislation. Along with environmental health officers, they visited 25 tanning businesses in the area.
They enlisted a 14-year-old girl to be their test shopper. She was offered sunbed services at 11 of the 25 salons, 44% of the businesses.
Although at some of the salons, the girl was asked to fill out a form before the purchase on which she wrote her real date of birth, in many cases the form was not read.
Many salons did not ask for proof of age and one shop was an unmanned business which relied on CCTV cameras to keep an eye on customers. However, no one was watching the footage.
West Yorkshire Trading Standards said that only 15% of retailers in the area have been caught selling alcohol and tobacco to children, compared with 44% for sunbeds.
Louise Marshall, of the Health Protection Agency, said: "The test purchase rate achieved in relation to sunbeds is of concern. However, as part of the intervention it is now hoped that sunbed studio operators will have a greater understanding of their responsibilities under the legislation."
Cancer Research UK warns: "Sunbeds are classified at the same carcinogenic level as tobacco, with the intensity of some UV rays from sunbeds being up to 10-15 times higher than that of the midday sun. Younger people are particularly at risk and sunbed users under the age of 35 have a 75 per cent higher risk of developing malignant melanoma, the deadliest type of skin cancer."
Do you think that tanning salons, gyms and health clubs need to tighten up their checks on underage sunbed users? Leave a comment and share your thoughts