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 Header Item ESB (Electronic Communications Networks) Bill 2013: Report Stage (Resumed) and Final Stage (Continued)
 Header Item Public Health (Sunbeds) Bill 2013: Second Stage (Resumed)

Thursday, 13 February 2014

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 830 No. 3

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(Speaker Continuing)

[Deputy Paudie Coffey: Information on Paudie Coffey Zoom on Paudie Coffey] I welcome the passage of the Bill. The weaknesses in the broadband infrastructure have been highlighted by Deputies on all sides of the House and it is important to note the concerns expressed by colleagues, especially those who represent rural Ireland and the regions. However, I firmly believe this legislation will be a game-changer in the delivery of broadband infrastructure. These networks will provide the opportunity to reach parts of Ireland that were never reached before. I understand the commercial element and that the service-providers will target clusters of population but the Bill empowers those service-providers and the ESB to reach out to other communities who had not been reached before. We have been playing catch-up as a result of the lack of investment in telecommunications infrastructure. This legislation will increase competition in the sector and present opportunities to expand fibre network into areas in the country which could not be reached heretofore. I welcome the Minister's assurances to the House that this service-provider, along with all service-providers will be monitored to ensure the provision of broadband to the citizens and regions of the country. The Minister has assured us that he will pursue the national broadband plan, which is essential. This Bill is an important step in the provision of high standard quality broadband and it is to be welcomed.

  Question put and agreed to.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Barrett Zoom on Seán Barrett The next business is a very appropriate - it is the sunbeds Bill.

Public Health (Sunbeds) Bill 2013: Second Stage (Resumed)

  Question again proposed: "That the Bill be now read a Second Time."

Deputy Jerry Buttimer: Information on Jerry Buttimer Zoom on Jerry Buttimer I concluded my contribution yesterday by saying it is important that the risk of exposure to UV rays be reduced as well as the incidence of skin cancer. There is a clear link between sunbeds and skin cancer. In 2009 the international agency for research on cancer placed sunbeds in the highest category for cancer risk and rated sunbeds to be as carcinogenic as tobacco and plutonium.

Today's meeting of the Joint Committee on Health is dealing with the legislation to provide for plain packaging for tobacco products. The tobacco companies are attending the meeting to discuss this legislation. We need to tackle the issue of sunbed use in tandem with that of cigarette smoking. The World Health Organisation reclassified sunbed use from what was termed a group 2A carcinogen which is probably carcinogenic to humans, to group 1 carcinogen which means it is carcinogenic to humans. This is an extraordinary reclassification because it firmly links sunbed use with cancer.

Deputy Alex White is the Minister of State with responsibility for primary care and it is appropriate that he is here. We need to send a message to parents that it is not acceptable for young children to be exposed to UV rays through the use of sunbeds in preparation for first holy communion or confirmation, debs or grads. That message must go out from this House.

The British Association of Dermatologists has advised that certain groups should never use sunbeds. These include those under the age of 18; those with fair, freckled skin that does not tan with exposure to the sun; those with a large number of moles; those with a history of skin cancer; those with abnormal sensitivity to the sun due to photo-sensitive diseases such as sun allergy; those on certain medications. These groups comprise a significant swathe of people.

I wish we could ban sunbeds altogether. I stand corrected but as of now, anyone can set up a tanning salon because there are no regulatory restrictions on the type of equipment. In 2012, the Irish Cancer Society conducted a secret shopper survey which showed that seven out of ten tanning shops would allow a fair-skinned child use a sunbed without any advice or warning. Deputy Billy Kelleher referred to the use of goggles and other types of protection used. I ask if there are regulations in place to ensure eye protection is used. There is no regulation of the use of sunbeds. All that is required for these devices to be used is to have a strategic location for a tanning salon.

We must aim to reduce the risk of cancer and implement customer safety standards which will allow the National Consumer Agency to take measures against products posing a serious risk to the health and safety of consumers. This Bill will provide for those standards and it will provide for robust measures to deal with the risk and threats from sunbed use.

Some will argue that sunbeds are beneficial in that they give access to UV rays which are converted into vitamin D. However, unless one never ventures out of house, one will get sufficient vitamin D to avoid any deficiency. Even those who attempt to argue for the benefits of sunbeds cannot argue the case that they should be unregulated. At the very minimum their use needs to be regulated.

The Bill prohibits the use of sunbeds by people under the age of 18 either in a tanning shop or in a similar premises. This is in keeping with the World Health Organisation recommendations. It also prohibits the use of sunbeds in unsupervised premises; it makes it mandatory that sunbed operators make users fully aware of the risks involved; and it requires warning signs to be put in place in all sunbed locations.

What regulation will govern the training for those who provide these services? This aspect could be examined on Committee Stage. Thankfully, the trend for sunbed use is decreasing, down from 9% of the population to 4% in 2010. A source of concern is that 88% of sunbed users are women. The age categories of users of sunbeds are those between the ages of 15 and 24 and 35 to 49. I think those categories puts all of us in this Chamber in those risk categories. I hope all of us would avoid the use of sunbeds.

I refer to a study on sunbed use by adolescent girls carried out in Cork by Mairead McDonnell. The girls, aged 17 and 18 spoke about their experience of and attitude to the use of sunbeds. Among the main findings were that 28% of the respondents had used sunbeds. Of these, 71% had first used a sunbed between the ages of 14 and 16 and 8% had used a sunbed before the age of 14. The youngest age for reported use was ten years and there was an association between sunbed usage in respondents and family sunbed usage.

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