Florida Senate ready to pass sunscreen measure

The Florida Senate is poised to approve legislation aimed at preventing local governments from banning the sale of certain types of sunscreen, fast-tracking a proposal that did not pass the Legislature last year.

The Senate took up the bill (SB 172) on Wednesday and briefly discussed it before positioning it for a vote as soon as Jan. 29. The measure, sponsored by Sen. Rob Bradley, R-Fleming Island, stems from a decision by Key West to ban sunscreens because of concerns they contain chemicals that could harm coral reefs.

If the bill is approved during this year’s legislative session, Key West would not be able to enforce an ordinance that is set to go into effect in January 2021. The ordinance bans sunscreens containing the chemicals oxybenzone and octinoxate, which studies have found can contribute to coral bleaching. Bradley, however, argues that sunscreens are critical to prevent skin cancer, adding that those products are the “first line of defense” against melanoma.

“Because sun is such an important part of our daily life and the experiences of those who visit our state, one of the unfortunate and often tragic side effects of that way of life is that Florida ranks second in the nation when it comes to rates of new melanoma cases,” Bradley said. Under Bradley’s bill, the state would block local regulations of all over-the-counter drugs and cosmetics, which would include sunscreens and makeup.

An identical House bill (HB 113) has been approved by two committees.

The News Service of Florida contributed to this report.