Could Sweden ban teens from using sunbeds?

Could Sweden ban teens from using sunbeds?
Sunbeds are very popular in Sweden. Photo: Erik Abel/TT
Swedish teenagers wanting to escape the Nordic chill and soak up UV rays may soon be forced to think twice – if a government plan to ban minors from using tanning salons goes ahead.

Sweden's centre-left Social Democrat-Green coalition government has asked the European Commission to examine a legislative proposal to make it illegal for sunbed salons to accept customers under the age of 18 from July 1st 2018.

“Skin cancer is one of our most common types of cancer and it's the one increasing the most. We are very worried about and want to protect our children and youths as much as we can from this type of cancer. It's important then to cut down on the use of tanning beds,” environment minister and co-leader of the Green party, Åsa Romson, told Swedish radio broadcasters on Wednesday.

The ban would mean that any solarium owners allowing underage children and teenagers to use their sunbeds could be slapped with a fine or even sentenced to prison for up to six months.

Around four out of ten Swedish teenagers and young adults have used tanning beds, according to the Swedish Radiation Protection Authority, which backs an age limit on exposure to artificial rays.

But it has been the source of heated debate in the light of figures showing that skin cancer is on the increase, with the number of people dying from malignant melanomas almost doubling in a decade.

A report by Swedish Radio suggests that if put to a vote in parliament, the government's proposal would pass, with both the Left Party and the far-right Sweden Democrats indicating they would support it.

However, a spokesperson from the largest opposition party in parliament, the Moderates, said she did not believe a blanket ban was the right course of action.

“You can't legislate away all the risks in life, but we have to work more responsibly with information and make it clear that too much ultra-violet radiation is not good for anyone,” Cecilia Widegren told the radio station.