Action on Sunbeds

150,000 Irish people have used a sunbed in the past year.

Skin cancer is the most common cancer in Ireland, and the most preventable.

In 2013, 10,775 people were diagnosed with skin cancer, and 984 of these were diagnosed with melanoma, the most serious form of skin cancer. There were 181 deaths from skin cancer in 2016. 

Sun-bed Campaign 2017

There is strong scientific evidence of the link between skin cancer and sunbed use. In 2009, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) classified sunbeds as ‘carcinogenic’ to humans, placing it in the same category as plutonium and tobacco.

An IPSOS MRBI poll commissioned by the Irish Cancer Society in July 2017, shows that 150,000 Irish people have used a sunbed in the last year, with 36,000 of them using a sunbed once a week.

What is more worrying is that this survey showed an increase in young peoples’ use of sunbeds, and an alarming frequency of use.

  • In our 2010 survey 5% of 15-24 year olds and 4% of 25-34 year olds were using sunbeds, but this has now grown to 8% of 15-24 year olds and 9% of 25-34 year olds in 2017;
  • 24% of sunbeds users are tanning once a week;
  • 51% use sunbeds at least once every two months;
  • 85% Irish people who’ve used sunbeds first did so before the age of 24;

The Society is deeply concerned by these results as young people are most at risk from the dangers of sunbeds - there is a 75% increased risk in the most serious form of skin cancer when people begin tanning regularly before the age of 35 years. 

As an initial step to help decrease use among young people the Society is launching a campaign asking the Government to increase the VAT rate on sunbed sessions from 13.5% to the standard VAT rate of 23% in Budget 2018. 

Currently under the VAT Consolidation Act 2010 , sunbed sessions are allowed a reduced VAT rate as it is a service consisting of ‘care of the human body’, in the same category as beauty treatments, yoga and nail salons, while the standard 23% VAT rate is applied to sunscreen. This is a complete anomaly as by using a sunbed, even once, you are damaging your skin and increasing your risk of skin cancer.

We are calling on the Minister for Finance to introduce the VAT increase on sunbed sessions in Budget 2018, and we need your support.

Please talk to your local TD, and ask him to support this campaign. It is vital we reduce the number of Irish people using sunbeds.

In the long term we would like to see the Government consider a ban, or partial ban on sunbeds, as Brazil, and Australia have done.

The Society’s Budget 2018 campaign to increase the VAT rate on sunbed sessions is supported by The Marie Keating Foundation, the Irish Skin Foundation, Melanoma Awareness Ireland, Melanoma Support Ireland and the Environmental Health Association of Ireland.

Please see our press release on the campaign here

See our previous campaign on Sunbed legislation here.

Date Last Reviewed: 
Monday, July 21, 2014