Regulation of sunbeds: ECO replies to European Commission consultation

One of the key pillars of Europe’s Beating Cancer Plan is cancer prevention. To that end, the European Commission promised to introduce policies reducing exposure to ultraviolet radiation, including from sunbeds.

The Commission's objectives are spelled out in its European Code Against Cancer. This science and evidence-led project, developed by experts at the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), sets out 12 ways any citizen can reduce their cancer risk. When it comes to sunbeds, the Code could not be clearer: “Do not use sunbeds” (Point 7).

ECO therefore welcomes the Commission's commitment to study measures on exposure to UV radiation, including from artificial tanning devices (sunbeds). 

ECO, in consultation with its member societies, Patient Advisory Committee and its Prevention, Early Detection and Screening Network, responded to the European Commission with the following recommendations:

  • A ban on the use of sunbeds by minors

A total of 21 countries around the world have already banned indoor tanning for people younger than age 18.

Australia, Brazil, and Iran have banned indoor tanning altogether. 

  • Regulating sunbeds as medical devices and phasing out use for aesthetic purposes

Ultraviolet (UV) tanning devices are classified as a Group 1 carcinogen by the International Agency for Research on Cancer.

Other Group 1 carcinogens include plutonium and tobacco. ECO considers it perverse that there is long established regulation to control exposure for almost all Group 1 carcinogens, yet there is reluctance to initiate similar controls for UV exposure from sunbed use.

  • Other recommended measures

To protect citizens from UV radiation more generally, ECO emphasises the important role of the European Parliament on this topic, as framed in the BECA report and approved by large majority in a plenary vote. In that report, MEPs called on the European Commission to revise Directive 2006/25/EC on the exposure of workers to the risks arising from physical agents (artificial optical radiation) and to include solar radiation within its scope. 

Our full response is available here.