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News & Press: Advocacy

Hawaii Sunscreen Ban Actions

Thursday, May 24, 2018  
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Dear Massachusetts Academy of Dermatology Members,

Please see the important update below from the American Academy of Dermatology regarding the Hawaii Sunscreen Ban Actions. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact our office at info@massacademyofdermatology.org

On May 1 the Hawaii state legislature passed a bill that bans the sale and distribution of sunscreens containing oxybenzone and octinoxate.  While Governor David Y. Ige has not yet signed the bill, it will become law in early July unless the governor vetoes it.  Although the governor has not commented on the bill specifically, he has made comments supporting avoidance of sunscreens with these ingredients and AADA Government Affairs staff does not expect him to veto the bill. If the bill is signed or proceeds without a veto, the law will go into effect in 2021. 

While many of us are horrified at the vilification of one of our favorite compounds, we should be aware that there is at least some evidence that oxybenzones are not good for the environment.  How good that evidence is, we do not know, but it is mounting. For years diving associations have outlawed these sunscreens on their boats.  I think it’s likely coral reef bleaching will end up being multifactorial, with climate change and many contaminants contributing significantly to the problem — not just the oxybenzones.  However, we don’t want to toss out the baby with the bath water, insisting on oxybenzones being safe, and then having people tune out our basic message of sun protection.  The truth is that we want people to protect themselves from excessive sun exposure and there are many ways to do that including physical blockers, clothing, and avoidance of noonday sun.  We will continue to focus messaging around this while also advocating for FDA to approve more sunscreen ingredients. 

Click here to view the American Academy of Dermatology Association statement on sunscreen access.

A summary of the actions delivered by the AAD staff in the past couple of weeks can be found here.

We encourage all of you as you have conversations with your staff and patients, to bring up both the AAD's position statement and push our communication sites in the attached document.