Co-op Midcounties is calling on the government to help people protect themselves from the potentially harmful effects of the sun by removing VAT from sunscreen products.

Sunscreen is currently classified in the UK as a “cosmetic product”, however, Cancer Research UK state that getting sunburnt just once every two years can triple the risk of melanoma skin cancer.

Melanoma skin cancer incidence rates have more than doubled (135%) in the UK since the early 1990s.

With the average bottle of sunscreen costing £5 -£7, with around £1.50 of this being the VAT charge applied, Co-Op Midocunties hope that their letter to the government will be considered.

By removing VAT from these essential items will therefore play a significant part in making sunscreen more affordable and encouraging more people to protect themselves from the sun.

Co-op Midcounties Chief Executive Phil Ponsonby said: “Sunscreen is an essential healthcare product and we don’t think it’s right or fair that it should incur VAT.

“We need to do everything we can to make it as affordable as possible, and we’re therefore asking people to join our campaign, write to their MP and make a change that will help to reduce the risk of skin cancer for everyone.”

To help reduce the costs for customers now, Co-op Midcounties Pharmacy online and in retail stores, are offering a 20% discount – effectively paying the VAT for customers.

They are also asking everyone to help raise awareness of this issue and encourage the government to take action by signing a petition and writing to their MP.

GP and TV medic Dr Hilary Jones is also backing the campaign and to help make the case for action.

“Sunscreen is a really important medical product that prevents against the risk of skin cancer,” he said. “I fully support the Co-op Midcounties campaign and it’s important that we get Ministers interested in removing VAT from sunscreen.

There is a wide consensus of doctors, skin specialists, dermatologists and cancer specialists who would agree that sunscreen should be reclassified as a healthcare product.”

More details on the campaign and how you can write to your MP can be found at:

The petition can be signed here