Who could disagree with these arguments? We know and see the obsession not just in tanning shops, but on our beaches every year and when we go abroad, with coming back a different colour. Unfortunately, in my case that will never happen. I am probably skin type I or II, as are the majority in this country. We have to realise that we should not be out in the sun.
There is a clear need for an awareness campaign. We all accept now that smoking is bad for us although it still happens, but hopefully at a reduced rate. People still drink too much although there is a recognition that they should not. We are only beginning to become aware of skin cancer, in respect of exposure to the sun, ultraviolet rays, tanning parlours and sunbeds. There is value in these amendments on that issue. Both Deputies, however, will understand that we cannot put them into legislation because we have to accept that people have a right to behave in a way that has consequences down the line.
We accept the argument of the Irish Cancer Society. Under EU legislation and our equality legislation, we cannot discriminate on the basis of skin type. It seems self-evident that people of my skin type should not use sunbeds or go out in the sun but people feel they have a right to do so. All we can do is protect those whom we are legally obliged to protect, those under 18. There will be an obligation on the owners of tanning parlours to display notices outlining exactly the type of person who should not use sunbeds. The customer will be asked does he or she understand the rules and to sign confirmation of this. The operators must retain these documents for two years. They will also have to display a notice of the effects and dangers of using sunbeds, and a health warning. On top of this, they must comply with the regulations as written. There will be inspections and significant on-the-spot fines and court appearances if they do not comply.
The Deputy is quite right to point out that as we speak we are coming up to a time when children are being prepared for first holy communion and confirmation. In the past few years, thankfully, they have moved to using artificial tan rather than sunbeds but it happens. Deputy Ó Caoláin knows this too. This Bill will prohibit that use.
These two amendments which, unfortunately, I cannot accept, for the reasons I have outlined, will draw to the attention of people who are over 18 the need to know their skin type and that they should not be out in the sun. We have to accept that we must allow that type of freedom to people who are over 18.
The Minister apologises for his absence. He is in Greece on official business; otherwise he would be here. I am sure he dealt with all of this on Committee Stage. We cannot accept the amendments for all the reasons I have outlined but they are well worthwhile because they draw attention to the type of public awareness that people should have.
The Fitzpatrick chart exists but we cannot discriminate on the basis of skin type.
We will be advising the operators of sunbed parlours about the skin types of which they should be aware. We will also pursue a public awareness campaign along with the other agents involved in this area, including the Irish Cancer Society, the National Cancer Control Programme and the HSE. Individual agencies and organisations have developed their own awareness campaigns but we will also make a co-ordinated effort to raise awareness. However, we can only administer legally on behalf of those we are obliged to protect, namely, people under the age of 18 years.