SNP MEP Alyn Smith and Lynsey Paris, a young mother and skin cancer patient have launched a campaign to reduce VAT on sunscreen protection products, backed by Melanoma Action & Support Scotland (MASScot).

With the summer season approaching Melanoma Action and Support Scotland (MASScot) have called for widespread use of high factor sun creams, and backed the Euro MP’s campaign to introduce a reduced rate of 5% VAT for sun protection products, making them more affordable for consumers.

Currently, sun protection products are classified as a cosmetic product and subjected to the usual 20% VAT level. However Alyn Smith’s campaign – which

includes a petition on his website – is calling on the Chancellor of the Exchequer to reduce that to help protect against the danger of skin cancer.

Alyn Smith said:

“We need to reduce the price of sun protection which is currently covered by a standard rate of 20% VAT and classed as cosmetics rather than the life-saving products they are.

“The UK Government must recognise the importance of high factor sunscreen and act on it. Legal complications and organisational buck-passing must end so we don’t miss out on an opportunity to protect Scots’ health.

“With the number of people diagnosed with skin cancer in Scotland increasing, sun cream is a necessity rather than a luxury and 20% VAT on it is simply wrong.  It’s not a cosmetic and the cost of cancer treatment far outweighs any gains to the exchequer.

“I have launched a petition and will present the signatures to George Osborne demanding action.”

Leigh Smith, Chair of MASScot said:

“We are very glad that Alyn Smith is raising the issue of VAT on sun protection. We are currently teaching the need for sun protection in schools, but the costs means that often people do not use an adequate amount of cream and re-apply it as often as is necessary to give proper protection.

“The number of people with skin cancer has increased by more than 50% in the last decade; it means that malignant melanoma is the fifth most common form of cancer in Scotland and the most common in 15 to 34 year olds.

“While it is an encouraging sign that mortality rates for cancer are falling, the trends within these statistics demonstrate the need for the Government and for us as individuals to do everything we can to avoid it.”

Dr Girish Gupta Consultant Dermatologist, NHS Lanarkshire and is the Clinical lead for the West of Scotland Skin Cancer Network said:

“Skin cancer is more common in fair skinned (Celtic) skin types and sun damage starts accumulating from early childhood.

“People who are at high risk of developing skin cancer that is, those with a history of skin cancer, a family history of skin cancer, evidence of sun damage, people on medicines which suppress the immune system or increase the risk of sun burn and anyone who has skin that burns easily should be able to have high factor sun protection prescribed by their GP.  An SPF of 30 or more, broad spectrum which blocks UVA and UVB sun rays is required.”

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