Hawaii governor signs first-ever bill banning sunscreens that harm coral reefs

Hawaii Gov. David Ige (D) on Tuesday signed into law a bill that bans the sale of sunscreens that contain chemicals harmful to coral reefs and other ocean life.

Hawaii lawmakers passed legislation earlier this year banning the sale and distribution of sunscreens made with oxybenzone and octinoxate. Prescription sunscreens are not included in the ban. 

Ige’s signature makes Hawaii the first state to enact such a ban. The law will go into effect on Jan. 1, 2021.

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The governor stressed on Monday that the legislation is a "first step" of among several efforts to protect the state's shorelines and natural resources.

"We are blessed in Hawaii to be home of some of the most beautiful natural resources on the planet, but our natural environment is fragile and our own interaction with the earth can have everlasting impacts," Ige said at the bill signing.

"This bill is a small first step worldwide to really caring about our corals and our reefs in a way that no one else anywhere in the world has done," he added.

State Rep. Mike Gabbard (D) touted the law as a "first-in-the-world" measure when it passed the state legislature in May.

“When you think about it, our island paradise, surrounded by coral reefs, is the perfect place to set the gold standard for the world to follow,” said Gabbard, whose daughter is U.S. Rep. Tulsi GabbardTulsi GabbardHoping to catch fire, House Dems eye White House Hawaii governor signs first-ever bill banning sunscreens that harm coral reefs Overnight Defense: VA pick breezes through confirmation hearing | House votes to move on defense bill negotiations | Senate bill would set 'stringent' oversight on North Korea talks MORE (D-Hawaii). “This will make a huge difference in protecting our coral reefs, marine life and human health.”