TALLAHASSEE (CBSMiami/NSF) – With the full Florida Senate ready to take up the issue, a Florida House panel Tuesday approved a bill that would block local governments from regulating over-the-counter drugs and cosmetics.

The issue centers on a decision by Key West to ban certain types of sunscreen because of concerns that two chemicals, oxybenzone and octinoxate, used in the products could damage coral reefs.

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But House sponsor Spencer Roach, R-North Fort Myers, said there is not “conclusive” evidence that the chemicals are damaging coral reefs.

“I am very concerned about the coral,” he said. “I am a life-long, avid scuba diver. If I believed that these two things were harming the coral reefs, I would certainly not be bringing this bill.”

Roach said all sunscreen options need to remain available to protect Floridians and tourists from getting skin cancer.

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Opponents of the “preemption” bill say mineral-based sunscreens, without the disputed chemicals, are effective.

The House Local, Federal & Veterans Affairs Subcommittee voted 9-6 to approve the bill.

The full Senate is slated Wednesday to take up the Senate version of the bill (SB 172), sponsored by Senate Appropriations Chairman Rob Bradley, R-Fleming Island.

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