Monthly Archives: October 2011

Sunbeds get burned

It may have escaped your notice but the UK has a law about Sunbeds – the Sunbeds (Regulation) Act 2010. I know laying in the Sun is a complete mystery for half the world (the half that actually has Sunny days) but to the other half (the bits that don’t get much Sun), it’s perfectly understandable. I will let you guess which half the of the world the UK resides.

It turns out that a little bit of sun is quite good for you but too much Sun is harmful (that’s probably why we say ‘too much’). That really isn’t surprising. Now we all know that launching yourself at the Sun is probably harmful – I mean, it’s rather hot for a start. Staring at the Sun is also obviously a bit awkward too – it doesn’t even blink and that can get a little embarrassing after a while. But even if you walk around casually minding your own business, it can get to work on you – rather a nice tan (whatever your original skin colour may have been) but also burns and skin cancer. So, many people (especially the young and those who are rather too old to know that they are no longer young) love to get tanned artificially. That could be a euphemism for getting drunk but that’s not what I meant. No, these people go into small rooms, loaded with UV lamps, take most of their clothes off and spend a few minutes sipping cocktails. I’m told it can be addictive, especially if you want to impress your friends with that good looking, accelerated aging, cancer skin look.

The people who make laws have had enough. Now that might be because they aren’t the sort of people that do the sunbed thing and feel left out. An old fat body is still an old fat body – tanned or not. But it might also be for good reasons. So, what do these laws have to say about the matter? Anything useful?

Firstly, they make it clear that children (people under 18 years old) are not allowed to use commercial sunbed parlours. The skin of young people is especially vulnerable but they are also the ones who probably want it most. Clearly, someone has also done some thinking because children can get to use sunbeds if it’s for some genuine medical treatment. I can feel a whole range of mysterious medical conditions arising that can only be cured by extensive sunbed treatment shortly before the holiday season. The rest of the law scopes out the subject matter of possible future regulations on this subject.

For example, in scope is the possibility of restricting sale or hire of sunbeds to children (presumably for home use to try and get round not being allowed in the commercial premises); making commercial premises give and display information about sunbed health risks; making protective eyewear available to customers and trying to ensure it’s worn when using the sunbeds. It turns out that Wales (a proud country within the UK) has brought in those extra measures in local, regional legislation. They go by the snappy title of the Sunbed (Regulation) Act 2010 (Wales) Regulations 2011. You can tell that simple English was not a consideration.

These regulations go to the point of insisting that a supervisor is present on the premises to make sure no children are using sunbeds, assess the skin type of adult customers, give them information and advice (like get a life…) on health risks and safe operation of the machine and so on.

The humble sunbed will soon be demonised. Soon you may not even be able to use the word sunbed in polite company. It will go underground – which is somewhat ironic.