Brussels, 26 June 2017 – The European Sunlight Association, the voice of the European indoor tanning industry, has taken note of the new World Health Organization (WHO) report on “Artificial tanning devices”. We regret that aim is once again taken at sunbeds, while the WHO itself acknowledges that UV Radiation (UVR) exposure – and thus associated risks – comes mainly from the sun. Over-exposure to UVR, whether from the sun or from a sunbed, clearly carries risks, just like many others types of excessive behaviour. However, no studies have proven sunbeds to be riskier than outdoor UV exposure and the WHO provides no new evidence in that regard.
ESA has been promoting controlled and moderate exposure, actively engaging with EU policy-makers to facilitate fast adoption and implementation of safety standards on sunbeds. Sunbeds in Europe are already regulated and limited to an intensity equivalent to that of the Mediterranean summer sun (0,3W/m²), which the WHO itself recognizes as the strictest limit on UV irradiance from tanning devices in the world.
Consumer safety is best and most efficiently enhanced by adopting mandatory standards both for sunbeds and their use, more particularly customer intake, management and information by adequately trained staff. The latter could, for example, be achieved through the European standard on training & service provision (EN 16489) referenced in the WHO report, and which ESA has supported. We notably developed a certification, training and labelling scheme for this new standard to facilitate its national implementation.
Regulations, however, also need to be enforced. ESA and its member organisations can play a role in promoting and checking full adherence to the rules; ultimately, however, enforcement through inspections – and where needed sanctions – is the competence of the appropriate national authorities. In this respect it is regrettable that the WHO, which purports to present a “catalogue of interventions that have been used to reduce risks associated with artificial tanning” ignores the example of the Netherlands: There successful cooperation between sunbed operators and market surveillance authorities resulted in 90% compliance with legislation.
ESA stands ready to work with all interested organisations to identify and promote such examples of good practice which protects public health whilst making certain that individual consumers can freely choose to use tanning services in the knowledge that their safety is ensured.
You can download the statement here.