City of York Council has been working with local businesses to raise awareness of new legislation, which restricts selling sunbed sessions to over-18s only.
With a 14-year-old volunteer ‘mystery shopper’, officers from the council’s Environmental Health and Trading Standards Service visited 11 premises in the City of York Council area and found nearly a third offered sunbed sessions to the underage person.
Since April 2011, the Sunbeds (Regulation) Act 2010 requires businesses to prevent persons aged under 18 from using their sunbeds in order to protect them from the risks associated with exposure to ultraviolet light which can contribute to the increased incidence of skin cancer. If a person under 18 years of age is allowed to use, or is offered the use of a sunbed, the business owner is committing a criminal offence, regardless of whether they intended this to happen and, if found guilty, the owner could be fined up to £20,000.
As this is a relatively new piece of legislation, the test purchases were made to gather information on compliance and to serve as a warning to local sunbed businesses. Because of this, the council will not be taking enforcement action on this occasion.
Councillor Dafydd Williams, cabinet member for Crime and Stronger Communities, said: “I am disappointed that 27 per cent of the premises tested contravened the sunbed legislation. However, further test purchases will take place if breaches of the legislation are found, and we will take formal enforcement action. I hope that these test purchases will raise awareness of the legislation and I urge businesses to operate an age verification policy to ensure that they do not sell sunbed sessions to people aged under 18.”
Last year, test purchases to underage buyers were made in City of York Council’s area. Then, alcohol was found to be sold in 1 in 73 premises and tobacco was sold in 1 in 30 premises and action was taken against both businesses.