Sunscreen proposal starts moving in the House

Wear sunscreen, says a House panel.

A House panel Wednesday cleared legislation poised to end local bans on sunscreen sales.

The House Health Quality Subcommittee moved HB 113, which would protect consumer rights to buy suntan lotion and related products.

The 8-5 vote fell largely on partisan lines in the Republican-majority committee.

The bill is a response to Key West banning sunscreen sales earlier this year, due to the effects of component ingredients oxybenzone and octinoxate on the largest coral reef on the continent.

Despite passionate advocacy from environmental activists, the Republican majority carried the day. Rep. Spencer Roach, a North Fort Myers Republican carrying the House version, said this would “expressly preempt” local bans.

“The bill will have the immediate effect of preempting” the Key West ordinance, Roach said. “It will also serve to prevent future bans.

Stuart and Miami Beach have mulled similar bans, Roach added. The Ranking Member, state Rep. Richard Stark, questioned the need for the bill, however.

“Bans like this can catch on,” Roach said, citing an “emotional appeal” behind such legislation. He noted momentum to ban related makeup products as well in South Florida.

“Miami would be a far less attractive place without makeup,” Roach quipped, drawing scattered laughter from pockets of a full committee room.

Rep. Carlos G. Smith, an Orlando Democrat, noted alleged effects on coral reefs from sunscreens. But Roach countered that “it’s a theory. There’s no conclusive scientific data.”

Roach said that there simply wasn’t enough oxybenzone and octinoxate in sunscreens to cause these issues. Besides, the chemicals are found elsewhere, including “leeching plastics.”

“There is no hard scientific evidence linking sunscreen to the death of coral reefs,” Roach said, before painting a stark case against melanoma.

Visitors to Monroe County, Roach added, deserve the protection that only sunscreen can afford them.

“Skin cancer and melanoma kills,” the Representative noted. “If we’re going to ban a life-saving anti-cancer product, we can’t do it on hypothesis.”

The Florida Chamber was among the supportive parties; the Sierra Club and Surfrider Foundation, meanwhile, opposed the bill under consideration.

A representative of the city of Key West, meanwhile, defended the municipality’s right to take action.

This bill has two more committee stops before reaching the House floor. The Senate version of the bill, carried by Fleming Island Republican Sen. Rob Bradley, is moving through committees also.

While Smith held out hope that this could get vetoed (if passed) as the moratorium on plastic bans did earlier this year, Gov. Ron DeSantis of course will have the final say.

A.G. Gancarski

A.G. Gancarski has written for since 2014. He is based in Northeast Florida. He can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter: @AGGancarski

One comment

  • Joe DiNardo

    November 7, 2019 at 9:00 am

    Dear Florida residents, it may or may not be obvious to you but the bill on preemption that is being proposed by Senators Roach and Bradley is not about overturning the Key West vote on sunscreen bans or coral death or even about human safety. It is about silencing your voice in your local and state government. If it was any other way, these public servants would not just listen to the $10 billion sunscreen industry, DC lobbyists and even a few dermatologists that are influenced by industry; they would be reading the science that clearly demonstrates that sunscreens are toxic, they harm coral and reef life as well as humans – especial children!

    Further more, if the bill was about overturning the Key West vote surely they would have read the World Health Organization document stating that there is no proof that sunscreens prevent basal cell carcinoma or melanoma. Or perhaps the American Cancer Society publication demonstrating the significant increase (over 300%) in melanomas over the last 40 years in men and women regardless of sunscreen use. Nor would I expect them to read the hundreds of toxicology studies published on sunscreens, including the FDA study that demonstrates that these chemicals enter into our blood at several hundred times the level of concern for systemic toxicity. And I’m positive they would have also read the preliminary carcinogenicity report by the National Toxicology Program that demonstrates that oxybenzone negatively impacts bone marrow, spleen, liver, kidneys, brain and spinal cord as well as the thyroid, uterus and testes in rats and mice exposed up to 1% oxybenzone – even though it is commonly used at 6% in sunscreen products?

    Because if they would have read these scientific papers they couldn’t possibly believe that this is an “emotional appeal” or “it’s a theory. There’s no conclusive scientific data.” Or say, “that there simply wasn’t enough oxybenzone and octinoxate in sunscreens to cause these issues”. Or even “Skin cancer and melanoma kills (which is the only accurate statement in their quotes),” the Representative noted. “If we’re going to ban a life-saving anti-cancer product, we can’t do it on hypothesis.”

    Lastly, all science starts with an “hypothesis” and drugs that are anti-cancer drugs (WHICH SUNSCREENS ARE NOT) would not produce cancer in animals or contain cancer-causing ingredients like “benzophenone” (mainly produced by the sunscreen actives oxybenzone and octocrylene and possibly avobenzone, dioxybenzone and sulisobenzone). Also, the sunscreen actives homosalate and octisalate have been reported in the EU to cause various cancers, but more concerning are both chemicals are also similar to aspirin – a known reproductive toxicant … I think you get the point and so did FDA when they removed all of these chemical sunscreens from the generally recognized as safe and effective for human use category. So, like I said this bill couldn’t be about overturning a bill passed by Key West to protect their environment and themselves – it has to be about suppressing your voice in government. If this is not what you want … contact you local and state representatives – especially Bradley and Roach and tell them to vote against the bill.

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