Maui News

Maui County’s sunscreen ordinance takes effect on Oct. 1

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Non-chemical sunscreen dispensers have been installed at several locations in Hawai‘i. It’s a nod to the growing movement and legislation to get ocean users and beach goers to only apply mineral-based sun protection – to protect sensitive coral reef systems around the state. PC: DLNR (Nov. 19, 2021)

Maui County’s ban on the sale, use or distribution of nonmineral sunscreens without a prescription issued by a licensed healthcare provider, takes effect on Oct. 1, 2022.

Bill 135 was introduced by Maui County Councilmember Kelly Takaya King, and was signed into law as Ordinance 5306 by Maui Mayor Michael Victorino on Dec. 6, 2021.

King said mineral sunscreens containing zinc oxide and titanium dioxide are the only sunscreen active ingredients found by the US Food and Drug Administration to be generally recognized as safe and effective. She said scientific studies show they are also safer for marine organisms.

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“We must remove the significant ecological stressor of nonmineral sunscreens from our marine environment,” said King, chair of the Climate Action, Resilience and Environment Committee, which recommended approval of the law last year. “This ordinance is one important step to protect our coral reefs, which provide the first defense against erosion from sea-level rise, and are critically important for biodiversity, recreation, food sources and our tourism industry.

“I want to thank the scientists, environmentalists, students and all community members who came out to support this important legislation,” said King, who credited the state Department of Land and Natural Resources for working with the council.  “I particularly want to acknowledge Jeff Bagshaw and Peter Landon of the DLNR Division of Forestry and Wildlife for their support. 

She also gave accolades to DLNR, sunscreen provider Raw Elements and Maui Nui Marine Resource Council for installing the first of many mineral sunscreen dispensers at Maui County beach parks.

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Hawaiʻi County has also enacted an ordinance banning the sale and distribution of nonmineral sunscreens that will go into effect on Dec. 1, two months after Maui’s ban. Both counties will use any fines collected to fund environmental-protection efforts, but enforcement agencies will focus on educating the public rather than imposing penalties.

“I’m deeply grateful personally and professionally for Maui County’s leadership in passing this much needed sunscreen legislation,” said Hawai‘i County Councilmember Rebecca Villegas, who chairs her council’s Climate, Resilience and Natural Resource Management Committee. “They paved the way for Hawaiʻi County to boldly pass similar legislation also prohibiting the sale of nonmineral sunscreens.”

For more information, please see the Maui County Department of Environmental Management website at https://www.mauicounty.gov/2483/Mineral-Only-Sunscreen-Maui-County or contact the Office of Council Services at (808) 270-8008.

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