Tanning salons in Britain are set to face a tough time as hard restrictions are being imposed on them in order to curb the nation's soaring rates of skin cancer.
The British Government is to order a probe into the utilization of tanning booths with a view to introducing tougher regulations to discourage people, particularly teenagers, from using them, reports the Telegraph.
The government's cancer reform strategy will review the extent of sunbed use by teenagers. It will look at whether the introduction of coin-operated booths and unsupervised salons means that so-called 'tanorexics', people hooked on having a tan, are able to use the facilities with lethal regularity.
According to the current guidance, people under 16 should not be permitted to use the beds, but there are no laws supporting the advice.
Ministers will order the investigation as they publish the Government's blueprint on cancer services which will admit that UK survival rates lag behind those in Europe.
The Cancer Reform Strategy will also admit that Britain spends 80 pounds per head on cancer care, compared with 121 pounds in France and 143 pounds in Germany.
Also, proposals would be laid out for stepping up the attack on smoking, the greatest preventable cause of cancer, by imposing tougher restrictions on the sale of cigarettes and tobacco.
The Government will also promise 130 million pounds investment in radiotherapy to support a new target that no one should wait longer than a month for the treatment by 2010. More than four million patients now wait more than a month.
UK research has shown that the use of sunbeds has increased by more than a third in the last decade. Four out of five booths emitted ultraviolet radiation at levels above European and British standards, with the average unit carrying the same risk as midday Mediterranean sun.
According to evidence, young skin is particularly vulnerable to sun damage.
The World Health Organisation says under-18s should not use sunbeds, while a poll by the British Association of Dermatologists this week found 75 percent felt tanning booths should be banned outright.
Gill Perkins, from the Sunbed Association, which represents a quarter of commercial sunbed operators, said her members, concerned by the rise in unstaffed booths, would welcome further industry regulation.
The order came following the evidence that the cases of skin cancer are increasing more rapidly in Britain than any other form of the disease. Cases of malignant melanoma, the most dangerous kind, have doubled in 15 years, with almost 9,000 diagnosed annually, and close to 2,000 deaths.