Department of Health announces welcome new restrictions on sunbeds

The Irish Skin Foundation welcomes new restrictions on the use of sunbeds, including a ban on ‘happy hours’ promotions and a requirement to use protective eyewear, which will be introduced in March.

In an effort to protect skin health and reduce the risk of skin cancer Minister Varadkar has prohibited unlimited-use offers and free trials as means of promoting sunbed use to the public.


The measures to be introduced under the Public Health (Sunbed) Act 2014 will include:

  • ‘Happy hours’, unlimited or free use of sunbeds will end
  • Users will be required to wear protective eyewear
  • Sunbed use must be supervised
  • New hygiene standards will be introduced
  • Warning signs, information on the risks of sunbed use for users must be provided.
  • An outright ban on the health claims


Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer diagnosed in Ireland and is a particular problem for fair-skinned people.  Humans are exposed to ultraviolet (UV) radiation naturally by the sun, but sunbeds and sunlamps expose the skin to high and unregulated doses of artificial UV radiation which a growing body of evidence has linked to increased risk of skin cancer.

UV light treatment (phototherapy) for certain medical conditions will continue under supervision of qualified  medical professionals such as dermatologists. Personal or home use of sunbeds for skin conditions should never be used without supervision of a registered dermatologist.  UV phototherapy is carried out using medically calibrated UV bulbs and should never be confused with or substituted by personal or home use of sunbeds.

In 2009, the WHO’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) reclassified the ultraviolet radiation emitted by sunbeds to a ‘group 1 carcinogen’ (i.e. one that is carcinogenic to humans) and in the same category as tobacco and plutonium. Last year the Public Health Act banned under-18s using sunbeds.

Read the Department of Health’s press release here.