Journal of Medical Law and Ethics (JMLE)

A Matter of Life and Death? Regulating to Avert the Risks of Cancer from Cosmetic Sunbed Use in the UK and Australia

​Melanie Latham, Jean McHale

Sunbed use can be seen as part of a beauty regime, a means of ensuring a bronzed desirable appearance. However, there is an increasingly sinister side to the tanning phenomena. Tanning in the latter part of the 20th Century and early years of the 21st Century is no longer simply a question of beauty and desirability. Tanned skin may lead to skin cancer. This paper focuses on the dangers posed by sunbed use to obtain an artificial tan. Firstly, it explores the risks of sunbed tanning, how it can be viewed as a question for public health and the prospects for regulation. Secondly, it explores the current scope of legal regulation of sunbed use in the UK and how the existing regulation has proved problematic. Thirdly, using Australia as an example it examines the case for prohibition of commercial tanning operations. Finally, it concludes by arguing that the time has come to move towards a prohibition of commercial sunbed use in the UK.

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