A new law banning people under 18 from using sunbeds in Northern Ireland has come into force.

Any business found to be allowing those below the age limit to use, buy or hire the equipment could face prosecution.

Northern Ireland's Health Minister Edwin Poots has said skin cancer is now the most common form of cancer over the border.

He said people under 18 are particularly at risk, as their skin is more delicate and prone to damage than older skin.

Sunbed users under the age of 35 have a 75% higher risk of developing malignant melanoma - the deadliest type of skin cancer.

The legislation bans the use of sunbeds by under 18s and also ensures that adults who want to use sunbeds will be given information on the health risks.

Dr Carolyn Harper, Director of Public Health for Northern Ireland, said: "Many people think having a tan makes them look healthier and more attractive, but we know having a tan is actually a sign that our skin is trying to protect itself from UV damage.

"The Public Health Agency welcomes the new law being launched by the health minister to help protect people, particularly under 18s, against the risk of developing skin cancer.

"The legislation also places a duty on the operator of sunbed premises to act responsibly."

The Department of Health in Dublin is drafting legislation which, if passed by the Oireachtas, would ban the sale or hire of sunbeds to under 18s in the Republic.