Sunbeds: Misleading Claims Thwarted

When a member of the Facebook group ‘Melanomamates’ posted a link to a sunbed salon making extraordinary claims, I had a look, and was so incensed that I raised a case with the Advertising Standards Authority. The advertisement made a number of claims about potential health benefits of tanning, based on increased vitamin D intake from UV light, including: improved bone structure, reduced risk of heart disease, increased well-being, weight loss [Yes, really!], reduced cancer risk, stronger immune system, cure of skin disorders and reduced risk of burning.

I expected quite a battle, as the sunbed lobby have a powerful organisation. So I asked for help from the British Association of Dermatologists, Cancer Research UK, and the Melanoma Clinical Studies Group, and each offered some expert witnesses to assist.

However it appeared this was all unnecessary, as the ASA ruled that, as sunbeds were not CE-marked medical devices, any medical claims made in the advertisement were in breach of the Committees of Advertising Practice Code 12.1: ‘Medicinal or medical claims and indications may be made for a medicinal product that is licensed by the MHRA or EMEA, or for a CE-marked medical device’.

So, a big ‘thank you’ for all who offered their help, and a thank you also to the ASA for coming down in favour of those who believe advertising should be truthful and honest.

John Rouse
Adviser to Melanoma Focus
October 2013






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