The Government is seeking to crack down on the use of sunbeds by young people as new statistics paint a shocking picture of Liverpool's tanning culture.

 

The latest figures released by Cancer

Research UK show that half of all girls

in Liverpool aged 15-17 regularly use

sunbeds.

 

There are now over 300 tanning salons in the city of Liverpool alone and Merseyside has the highest concentration of tanning salons in the entire country. Whether we like it or not, some girls in the city have gained an unwelcome reputation as being the most 'orange' in the nation.

 

Girls Aloud singer Nicola Roberts, a Liverpool native, recently filmed a documentary on the dangers of tanning and revealed: "I spoke to one 11-year-old girl who was able to go into an unsupervised tanning salon and basically lie there and burn."

 

Previous statistics from Cancer Research point to a staggering 94% rise in cases of skin cancer in Liverpool over a six-year period, compared to a national average rise of 46%. There has also been a dramatic increase in treatment for Melanoma, the most dangerous form of skin cancer.

 

These alarming reports have prompted the Government to attempt to raise the legal age of sunbed use from 16 to 18 years' old.

 

JMU Journalism approached more than 20 tanning salons

in the city for their reaction to the statistics and the proposed

legislation change, but all of them were either unavailable or

refused to comment. Sunbed Association spokeswoman,

Kathy Banks, would not comment on the skin cancer

statistics, though she said: “We are not opposed to the ban

[on under-18s].”

 

To test public opinion on tanning, JMU Journalism went out into

Liverpool this week to conduct a street survey, asking almost

300 people (291) whether they prefer tanned or natural-looking

skin. The results were fairly evenly split, with a majority of  52%

preferring natural, compared to 48% who favour the tanned look.

 

When broken down between the sexes, it emerged that a

majority of women we asked prefer tanned-looking skin (57%)

rather than natural (43%). However, among the males we spoke

to, the preference was much more in favour of natural (69%) than

tanned (31%).

 

We then asked all those surveyed whether the 94% rise in

Liverpool's skin cancer cases in recent years came as a

surprise. Around 48% said 'yes', while 52% responded that they

were not surprised.  

 

More than 50 MPs, including several from Merseyside, are backing the ban on children using sunbeds and Parliament could fast-track the legislation to ensure it is in place ahead of the next General Election.

 

The private member's bill is being put forward by MP Julie Morgan, who said it would also enable campaigns for health warnings in salons and bans on advertising that suggests a tan is healthy.

 

Health Secretary Andy Burnham, originally from Liverpool, has said: "The scientific evidence is clear – sunbeds increase your risk of getting skin cancer.

 

"It is far too easy for young people to use sunbeds and I am determined to take action to protect them. I fully support this Bill which will force tanning salons to ban access for people under 18 years' old.”

 

Girls Aloud star Roberts added: "Actually, going into the streets of Liverpool and interviewing the young girls who are obsessed with having a tan and feeling like they had to be brown to be seen as attractive, that whole mentality that they had gathered, was just a bigger problem than I ever thought it was."

 

Additional reporting by: Kate Allen; Jessica Hutton; Katherine Hope; Stephanie Niciu; Sophie Booth;

Erin McLoughlin; Camilla Cole; Anna Malone; Aminata Konate; Dannika Burnell; Sophie Grundy;

Angela Brooks; Katie Broadhurst; Niamh Spence; Helen Turner & Brandon Cross.

   

Liverpudlians on the city's tanning obsession

Tanning risks exposed by skin cancer rise

Special report by Becky Friar & Hugh O'Connell

More JMU Journalism stories

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The tanned look appeals to some in the city, but not a majority; YouTube: Skin cancer awareness video

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