California Passes Bill Banning Sale of Cosmetics Tested on Animals

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Rabbits, mice, rats and guinea pigs have often been used in traditional cosmetic testing. Aubord Dulac/Shutterstock

California is cracking down on animal testing, becoming the first state to pass legislation that would ban the sale of cosmetics that have been tested on animals. In a unanimous vote, the California legislature passed Senate Bill 1249, also known as the California Cruelty-Free Cosmetics Act. If, as expected, it's signed into law by Gov. Jerry Brown, it will go into effect on Jan. 1, 2020.

The bill, which was introduced by state Sen. Cathleen Galgiani (D), says: "Notwithstanding any other law, it is unlawful for a manufacturer to import for profit, sell, or offer for sale in this state, any cosmetic, if the cosmetic was developed or manufactured using an animal test that was conducted or contracted by the manufacturer, or any supplier of the manufacturer, on or after January 1, 2020."

Cosmetics include personal hygiene products such as makeup, deodorant and shampoo.

In a statement obtained by People, Galgiani said, "By prohibiting the sale or promotion of any cosmetic if the final product or any components thereof have been tested on animals after the date of enactment, SB 1249 will bring California’s humane standards in line with the world's highest. Given that most manufacturers do not directly conduct tests on animals, recently accepted amendments now focus the legislation on manufacturers and their suppliers, including third parties who may test on behalf of manufacturers or their suppliers. Keeping animal testing out of the supply chain is the same standard that many 'cruelty free' companies employ."

Although California would be the first state in the U.S. to ban animal-tested products, many other countries have already legislated against cosmetic testing in some way. According to the Humane Society of the United States, nearly 40 countries, including the members of the European Union, Guatemala, India, Israel, New Zealand, Norway, South Korea, Switzerland, Taiwan and Turkey, have banned or limited the use of animals for cosmetics testing.

"As the most populated state in the country, and as the world's fifth largest economy, California's decision to remove animal tested cosmetics from its store shelves will no doubt have a huge impact both here in the United States and abroad," wrote Kitty Block, acting president and CEO of the Humane Society of the United States and president of Humane Society International, in her blog.

"California's pioneering action also highlights the need and urgency for Congress to pass the Humane Cosmetics Act, federal legislation that would end the production and sale of animal-tested cosmetics in the United States."

The Humane Cosmetics Act (H.R. 2790) would phase out animal testing the U.S., eventually also prohibiting the sale of any cosmetics tested on animals in other countries.

Legislators honed the focus of California's bill, according to the Los Angeles Times, narrowing its scope to include only animal testing conducted by the cosmetic manufacturer or its supplier. An earlier version of the bill banned cosmetics even when the group that conducted the testing had no link to the cosmetic company. That met strong opposition because it would've prevented manufacturers from using ingredients where animal testing was necessary for non-cosmetic purposes, such as making sure an ingredient won't cause cancer.

The bill was backed by animal rights groups, celebrities, dozens of cosmetic companies that use alternative testing methods, and thousands of Californians who wrote to legislators in support of the legislation.

Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez Fletcher (D-San Diego) told the Los Angeles Times, "We don’t have to test on animals to make sure my mascara stays on all day."