Hawaii’s proposed sunscreen ban is expected to become law this week

Katie Ramirez
July 7, 2018

Ige signed the bill Tuesday but the law doesn't take effect on the islands until January 1, 2021.

While Hawaii legislators touted the bill as a victory for coral reefs, others expressed concerns about its potential economic repercussions.

Those chemicals are: Oxybenzone and Octinoxate, which are found in many commercial sunblocks.

In May, the state House and Senate passed legislation that prohibits the sale and distribution of sunscreen with the active ingredients in the top-rated brands "without prescription from a licensed healthcare provider".

Those who opposed the bill, however, believe the ban could damage human health as they say people may be discouraged from using sunscreen since alternatives cost significantly more. "When you think about it, our island paradise, surrounded by coral reefs, is the ideal place to set the gold standard for the world to follow".

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"Oxybenzone and octinoxate cause mortality in developing coral; increase coral bleaching that indicates extreme stress, even at temperatures below 87.8 degrees Fahrenheit; and cause genetic damage to coral and other marine organisms", the recently passed legislation reads. Consumers will instead have to buy reef-safe sunscreens lacking the chemicals.

But state Rep. Chris Lee, who represents the Honolulu suburbs of Kailua and Waimanalo, said the law is a necessary step to help Hawaii pass on its reefs, ocean, tourism industry and way of life to the next generation.

The coral reefs surrounding Hawaii are hugely important to the USA state, aside from being home to marine life and drawing tourists for snorkelling and diving, a recent study found that coral reef provides protection for coastal towns from storm floods. The state-wide, non-profit association Retail Merchants of Hawaii stated the new rule will deflate the bottom lines of brick-and-mortar stores that sell sunscreen. "Banning oxybenzone and octinoxate - key ingredients in effective sunscreens on the market - will drastically and unnecessarily reduce the selection of safe and effective sunscreen products available to residents and visitors".

"When you think about it, our island paradise, surrounded by coral reefs, is the ideal place to set the gold standard for the world to follow", he told the Honolulu Star-Advertiser.

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