Scrap tax on sunscreen, say cancer charities

Value added tax – better known as VAT – should be scrapped on sunscreen to make it more affordable, say several UK cancer charities.

Sunscreen is classified as a “cosmetic” product and carries a 20% tax, adding around £1.50 to the cost of a bottle.

Charities want high-factor protective creams to be VAT exempt, citing the cost-of-living crisis which has seen many struggling to buy essential items.

Most skin cancers are caused by sun damage.

There are several types of skin cancer, and melanoma is the most dangerous, as well as the most common type among young people in the UK – with cases on the rise.

If untreated, the cancer can spread to other areas of the body.

Sunbeds also increase the risk of skin cancer, with some delivering greater doses of UV rays than the midday tropical sun.

“Few realise that getting painful sunburn just once every two years can triple your risk of skin cancer,” said Dr Louise Soanes, Chief Nurse, Teenage Cancer Trust.

“Preventing skin cancer by using an effective sun cream is essential – and sun cream shouldn’t be a luxury that only some can afford.”

Cruise ship dancer Kass Barker, who says she used to be “really into sunbathing”, was diagnosed with melanoma in October 2020, at the age of 22.

She had gone for a check-up of a mole on her wrist that had been worrying her.

“I just had a gut-feeling something was wrong,” says Kass.

Kass wants to warn others about how serious melanoma can be.

“If there was a cream that people said could prevent breast cancer, then everyone would be buying it – but for some reason people do not see skin cancer as such a threat.

“I’m a dancer and I love being tanned, but is it worth your life? I see people on social media joking about getting sunburnt, but it’s no joke. Melanoma can kill.”


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