Bill to prevent Florida cities from banning sunscreen is moving fast through legislature

by | Jan 27, 2020

Legislation is moving fast in both the house and the senate to prevent towns like Key West from banning the sale of sunscreens that contain potentially coral reef harming chemicals.

The bill would block local regulations of all over-the-counter drugs and cosmetics, including both sunscreens and makeup. An identical house bill has been filed and it is not clear if Governor Ron DeSantis will sign the measure.  Last year he vetoed a bill that would have barred local governments from banning plastic straws.

Representative Spencer Roach filed HB113 and is remaining hopeful that the governor will sign the legislation.

“Consumers have an opinion on what might protect them. There is more disinformation out there than information relating to chemical sunscreen,” said Roach. “There are 3 decades of research behind cancer prevention and with the influences of melanoma on the rise, we need to look at the facts.”

The Florida Society of Dermatology and Dermatological Surgery (FSDDS) has concerns regarding the legislation and local ordinances that intend to remove time-tested sunscreen ingredients from store shelves.

“Avoidance of ultraviolet radiation prevents skin cancer. The scientific evidence that sunscreens save lives is unambiguous and undisputed. The same cannot be said about the tenuous link between available sunscreen ingredients and coral bleaching and health problems. In 2018, the Key West City Commission voted to ban the two sunscreen ingredients that are present in over 70% of all sunscreen formulations, oxybenzone and octinoxate. Similar measures were considered by the cities of Miami Beach and Surfside, but failed given the lack of evidence suggesting harm by these chemicals and overwhelming evidence of their public health benefit. The FSDDS feels that, based on currently available data, there is no reason to ban sunscreen in Florida.”

The bill is moving to the house floor in short order, after clearing one committee already.

According to St. Augustine Record, there was a 30-year study completed to investigate what was killing the Florida Keys’ coral reef ecosystems. Nitrogen enriched waters, not sunscreen, were found to be the culprit:

“A key point of the findings is that warming ocean temperatures are not the lone killer of Keys’ coral, but part of a knot of man-induced challenges that includes higher rainfall rates from climate change that wash nitrogen-enriched waters through the greater Everglades and into Florida Bay.”

Roach believes that the debate between is pitting 30 years of established health research against “science in its infancy,” and that people have the right to choose between mineral sunscreens and chemical sunscreens that are FDA approved products that science proves it protects them best from UV rays.

“When you ban plastic straws it is an inconvenience, when you are talking about sunscreen bans this is a real risk for our community,” said Roach.

According to the Daytona Beach News-Journal, Senator Rob Bradley, chairs the Senate appropriations committee, believes local governments should not be allowed to put restrictions on any types of sunscreen.

Bradley also contended Key West and other communities looking at similar sunscreen rules were “fooled by junk science,” and made his position clear in a quote to the News-Journal:

“All sunscreen should be available throughout the state of Florida for people who buy it so that they can protect themselves,” Bradley said. “We should listen to those (skin cancer) experts and listen to that science, which is clear. We should not listen to junk science. That’s another thing I think our constituents expect of us.”

The senate bill, SB172 is supported by the Florida Chamber of Commerce, the Florida Retail Federation and Society of Dermatology and Dermatology Surgery.

If signed by Governor DeSantis, the bill will go into effect by in 2021.

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