Did you know the U.S Food and Drug Administration (FDA) considers sunscreen an over-the-counter drug and therefore, so do almost all schools? Technically speaking, this means students cannot bring sunscreen to school without a doctor’s note and then must see the school nurse to use it. This sounds a bit unrealistic, right? Some states are beginning to agree.
In the past four months, Alabama, Arizona, Florida, Louisiana, Utah and Washington have enacted laws that allow students to use sunscreen in school and at after-school activities without a doctor’s note. California, New York, Oregon and Texas have already passed legislation lifting the ban, too. And Arizona, New York and Washington laws allow students to bring and use sunscreen at summer camps without a doctor’s permission. Sunscreen legislation is also working its way through Massachusetts, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island. A sunscreen bill cleared the Senate in Mississippi, but died in a House committee, and a bill introduced in Georgia has stalled.
Medical groups, including the American Academy of Dermatology Association and the American Society for Dermatologic Surgery Association, support the momentum in legislation because it is helping protect students from skin cancer. However, other medical associations are criticizing the legislation. For example, the Rhode Island Association of School Nurses opposes the legislation making its way through the Rhode Island Senate because it does not contain any language to address liability for districts whose employees may apply sunscreen. The group also believes having sunscreen in the classroom could trigger allergic reactions among students, although Bruce Brod, the political advocacy chair for the Pennsylvania Academy of Dermatology and Dermatologic Surgery, said a serious allergy risk is unlikely.
To learn more about current sunscreen legislation, click here.