A Teesside man recovering from skin cancer is backing a campaign to ban sunbeds in the UK.
Paul Steward, a former user of sunbeds, is calling for an outright ban on sunbeds. On Tuesday he met Jay Allen, from the Melanoma Institute Australia, who successfully campaigned to outlaw them there two years ago.
Speaking to ITV News Tyne Tees, Mr Steward said he believed that people were not aware of the dangers of using sunbeds.
He said: "I really do believe that a lot of people will be as ignorant as I was about how dangerous they are and how few times you have to use them to give yourself a malignant melanoma.
"You know even with skin cancer that's been treated there's no guarantee that at some point in the future, it won't metastasise and go to somewhere else on your body with fatal consequences."
Jay Allen regularly used sunbeds when he was younger. He decided to seek medical advice after a mole on his ankle cracked and began bleeding.
He said: "My surgeon is adamant that my solarium use contributed to my disease so had I not used a solarium I might not have got melanoma at all, but I could have got it in later life so he feels that using it has brought it on quicker and aggressively."
However the industry body which represents solariums, The Sunbed Association, rejected claims that sun beds directly cause skin cancer.
In a statement it said: "There is absolutely no unflawed scientific evidence to support a claim that sunbeds cause melanoma; a claim we can back up with robust peer-reviewed scientific evidence.
"Targeting sunbeds is a spin on the fact that burning is a risk factor for melanoma not responsible tanning, which is why we encourage all sunbed users to go to a salon in membership of The Sunbed Association where they will be screened by trained staff."
The Health and Safety Executive has released a list of groups of people who should avoid using sunbeds altogether. These are:
- People with fair or sensitive skin
- People with red hair and freckles
- People with lots of moles
- Anyone with a family history of skin cancer