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Government wants tanning bed ban for under-18s

Published onsdag 2 mars 2016 kl 09.07
Radiation Safety Authority: "Nothing beneficial about solaria"
(4:49 min)
Photo: Ryan Tebo / Radio Sweden.
The government is hoping to make it illegal for people under the age of 18 to use tanning salons, like this one in Stockholm. Photo: Ryan Tebo / Radio Sweden.

Indoor tanning for minors would be prohibited under a new government proposal to amend Sweden’s Radiation Protection Act, but members of the opposition say legislation is not the way forward.

The government proposal to prevent minors from using tanning beds and booths has been sent to the EU Commission for approval, reports Swedish Radio News, which also found that while there is widespread support in the Swedish parliament for introducing an 18 age limit, som members of the opposition believe new legislation could be a bad idea.

"Skin cancer is one of our most common forms of cancer and that's the one that's growing most," Åsa Romson, Sweden’s vice prime minister and minister for the environment, told Swedish Radio News. "We want to protect our children and youths as much as possible from this form of cancer. So, it's important to cut back on tanning," she added.

The Swedish Ministry of the Environment and Energy stated that putting further effort into informing youths about the risks of using tanning beds would be "ineffectual" at this point.

In Sweden, unmanned tanning salons are common, and if the radiation law is amended, those salons would need to be outfitted with technologies that make it possible to check the would-be clients' ages.

Under the government proposal, anyone who operates a tanning salon and who allows minors to access it could face fines or up to six months in prison and the new rules would come into force on July 1st 2018.

In making calls to the parliamentary parties, Swedish Radio News found that the Left Party looked favorably on the proposal, and the Sweden Democrats' Carina Herrstedt, who had not yet read the proposal, was also tentatively in favor. The conservative Moderates and the Christian Democrats, however, said that legislation is not always the best way to deal with risks.

"You can't legislate away all of life's risks," the Moderates' spokeswoman on social policy, Cecilia Widegren, said, "but we need to work more responsibly with information and make sure to clarify that all types of ultraviolet radiation, in too large a dose, are not good for anyone."

In 2009, the Swedish Radiation Safety Authority, along with its Finnish, Icelandic and Norwegian counterparts recommended prohibiting sunbed services to people under the age of 18. They stated that ultraviolet radiation increases the risk of developing skin cancer, and that children and youths who have been burned are at a greater risk of developing malignant melanoma later in life.

"We know for a fact that UV radiation is carcinogenic - there is a risk of getting skin cancer, and that is from the sun and also from solaria," Hélèn Asp, head of the environment assessment section at the Swedish Radiation Safety Authority, told Radio Sweden. The authority depends on a scientific council to help advise them on relevant, recent research, as well as the World Health Organization.

"We don't see that there's anything beneficial with going to the solaria for anyone, and then, it's very important we think to protect the young people who are under 18," said Asp.

Our journalism is based on credibility and impartiality. Swedish Radio is independent and not affiliated to any political, religious, financial, public or private interests.
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