The use of sunbeds by people under 18 years of age is to be banned by new legislation to be introduced by the Minister for Health.

The Public Health (Sunbeds) Bill is to be put before Government before the end of the month.

The new law will prohibit the use of sunbeds by people under 18, as well as ban the sale or hire of sunbeds to anyone under 18.

Warning labels will have to be placed on sunbeds and use of the beds in unsupervised facilities will be outlawed. Exemptions will be put in place for medical purposes.

Minister for Health Mary Harney said skin cancer is the most common type of cancer in Ireland, and is a particular problem for Irish people because of their fair skin.

The Minister also noted that the 2009 reclassification of sunbed use as a Group 1 carcinogen by the International Agency for
Research on Cancers places sunbed use in the same category as
environmental tobacco smoke, and further highlights the need for robust legislation in this area.

Ms Harney's announcement was made just hours ahead of the launch of an Irish Cancer Society-supported Private Members Bill banning sunbed usage for people under 18.

The Irish Cancer Society is announcing the move this morning with the support of Fine Gael and Labour.

The society has claimed that 4% of the population are using sunbeds, with women under 34 years of age accounting for 43% of sunbed users.

The Irish Cancer Society says there is an urgent need for legislation on the issue and it claims that 80% of people support a ban on the use of sunbeds.