On 8 November 2021, New Jersey’s Governor Phil Murphy signed a new law that will ban cosmetic products tested on animals from 1 March 2022. In particular, the S1726 bill states:
“No [person or] manufacturer shall sell or offer for sale in the State any cosmetic that was developed or manufactured using an animal test, if the test was conducted or contracted by the manufacturer or any supplier of the manufacturer on or after [January 1, 2021]”
However, the new law, which was first introduced almost two years ago, does list several exceptions: if the testing is required by a federal or state regulator; if there is no accepted alternate way to test the product; if an ingredient is widely used and irreplaceable; if there is a specific human health problem associated with the ingredient and the need to conduct an animal test on the ingredient is justified. Also, the ban does not apply to items tested before the effective date of January 1, 2021, even if the product is sold after that date.
This important law was passed with overwhelming support from members of the State Senate and Assembly. With it, New Jersey has become the eighth US state to introduce a ban like this, behind California, Hawaii, Virginia, Nevada, Illinois, Maine and Maryland (with Rhode Island and New York also considering bans). Still, the majority of US States allow cosmetics manufactured with animal suffering. This is particularly depressing as many countries — at least 41 — have already banned animal testing for cosmetic products (although, as this ban, with some exemptions). This year Mexico became the first North American country to do it. The EU banned it as far as 2013 (and the UK in 1998!).
Unfortunately, these bans only affect testing for cosmetics, not for medical research, science, military or other products. The EU defines cosmetics as: “any substance or preparation intended to be placed in contact with the various external parts of the human body (epidermis, hair system, nails, lips and external genital organs) or with the teeth and the mucous membranes of the oral cavity with a view exclusively or mainly to cleaning them, perfuming them, changing their appearance and/or correcting body odours and/or protecting them or keeping them in good condition.”
Every year more than 500,000 innocent animals are tested for cosmetics, which is a small proportion of the animals tested for other purposes. But if we cannot ban animal testing for products that are not needed for survival, how are we going to achieve a ban of the testing done for products people consider essential? Even if we can prove animal tests are often misleading and valid alternatives exist, we would never advance significantly in the anti-vivisection movement if animal testing for cosmetics is still allowed in most countries. Nation by nation, or State by State, we will have to remove this obstacle, no matter how long it takes.