Hawaii Looks to Ban Animal Testing in Cosmetics

animal testing

By: J. S.

With the plethora of bills aiming at Hawaii’s infrastructure, traffic and the like, a bill regarding cosmetics and animal testing was a surprising find among the bills presented to Governor Ige.

Senate Bill 345 comes after other states including California, Nevada and Illinois made similar laws prohibiting the import of animal tested cosmetics into their states. The European Union, beginning in 2013, ended the import of these cosmetics as well. Even China, which once required animal testing on imported cosmetics, is now changing policy to loosen its testing requirements. In total, more than 30 countries have banned animal testing, and others have pending legislature to do the same.

California was the very first state to ban cosmetic animal testing. In 2002, the state first moved to mandate those manufacturers should use alternatives to traditional animal testing when available. In 2018 California enacted SB1249 banning the import and sale of animal tested cosmetics into the state beginning in 2020.

If SB 345 gets the stamp of approval from Governor Ige, importing cosmetics developed using ‘cruel animal testing’ will be banned. The bill would ban the import for profit, sale, and offer for sale of any cosmetic in the state if the final product or any component of the final product was developed or manufactured using animal testing performed on or after 1/1/2022 in a cruel manner.

Introduced by three state senators in January, SB 345 passed through several committees with amendments before being enrolled to the Governor at the end of April.

The bill garnered support through testimony from Senate committees, nonprofits such as The Humane Society, as well as many businesses. Several Hawaii owned skincare and cosmetics companies shared testimony in support of the bill, stating that it is possible to make safe, high quality products without the use of animal testing whatsoever. Many of Hawaii’s independently owned businesses that make popular cosmetics have been doing so for quite some time. 

For decades, painful animal testing has been used in the cosmetics industry and manufacturers to assess the safety of chemicals. It is estimated that over 100 million animals are used for testing each year. According to a 2016 USDA report, guinea pigs are the most common animal used for testing, followed by rabbits, hamsters, and primates.

Under the new bill, importers and companies that do not comply with the law would be fined daily by the county in which they operate. For the purpose of the law, “animal test” means the internal or external application of a cosmetic, either in its final form or any ingredient thereof, to the skin, eyes, or other body part of a live, nonhuman vertebrate.

As noted in the bill, there are various non-animal testing methods that can now be used – all of which are faster, cheaper, and more reliable. Beyond this, cosmetics companies have thousands of ingredients that have already been animal tested and proven safe from years of experimentation and sale to the public. The need for animal testing is no longer relevant, and Hawaii’s lawmakers are looking to catch Hawaii up to other states that have already banned imports of these cosmetics.

Alternatives to animal testing are gaining traction as states and countries move to change laws. Alternative methods of testing include computer models, cell cultures and human volunteers who join medical studies. These studies have also been found to be more reliable than animal studies that are not always a strong predictor of how a human will react to a chemical compared to a guinea pig or rat.