Consumers shouldn’t have to pay VAT on essential items like sunscreen. That’s the message Amy Callaghan, an SNP MP, is delivering to the government.
Callaghan, who has herself battled skin cancer aged just 19, is campaigning to make sunscreens and other essential health items cheaper.
With the increasing challenges of climate change and the rising costs of daily living, she believes sunscreen should not be classified as a luxury item – so it should not be taxed.
Increasing risk of skin cancer
Each year in the UK, 16,000 people are diagnosed with melanoma, and 2,300 tragically lose their lives to this form of skin cancer.
Currently, the UK has a relaxed approach towards sun exposure. However, with climate change bringing hotter, sunnier weather, the risk of developing skin cancer is increasing.
Highlighting the successful Australian sun safety campaign – which encourages wearing a T-shirt, applying sunscreen, and donning a hat – Callaghan is hoping to inspire greater awareness in the UK.
Beauty Industry messaging causing confusion
As well as scrapping VAT from sunscreens, Callaghan states the beauty industry is also partially to blame. Many beauty brands claim they incorporate sun protection into their products. However, many of these have protection levels below the NHS recommendations of SPF30+ and 4-5 stars for UVA.
Callaghan believes that the beauty industry plays a pivotal role in reshaping public perspectives on sun protection.
Major retailers like Superdrug and Tesco have already dropped VAT from their private-label sunscreens. Morrisons has also joined the initiative, committing to passing the VAT savings onto the customers if Callaghan’s campaign is successful.
Take control and reduce your risk of melanoma
Wearing sunscreen is the most effective way to prevent melanoma. However, there are other tips you can follow.
It’s important to routinely monitor your skin for potential signs of skin cancer. Look for changes in the size, shape, or colour of your moles. Also, look out for any new moles, or those that appear different from the others. If you spot anything concerning, get it checked by your doctor.
Key tips to reduce melanoma risk:
- To protect your skin and lower the risk of developing melanoma, follow these tips:
- Wear the right sun protection: Always wear protective clothing, including a hat that shields your face, neck, and ears. Opt for UV-protective sunglasses too.
- Seek shade: Especially between 11am and 3pm, find shade to prevent skin reddening or burns.
- Sunscreen selection: Use a broad spectrum sunscreen with a high SPF (Mr. Smith recommends 50 SPF) for protection against both UVA and UVB. Apply it 15-30 minutes before sun exposure.
- Reapply every two hours, after swimming, and after excessive sweating or exercise.
- Children’s safety: Keep babies and young children away from direct sunlight.
- Professional advice: Notify your doctor about any skin changes. If there’s a concern, ensure you consult a dermatologist, who specialises in skin cancer diagnosis.
If you catch melanoma early enough, there are effective treatment options available. If you would like to talk through your individual options, book a consultation with Mr Myles Smith.