WASHINGTON — As the Cosmetic, Toiletry and Fragrance Association celebrates its centennial this year, it is concentrating on coalition-building, globalization and bolstering its lobbying efforts on the state level.
“Twenty years ago, the association was an organization that just sent out newsletters…and dealt with just a couple of issues,” said Edward Kavanaugh, who since 1983 has been president of the association, which is based here.
“Now, because of a more competitive environment and other factors, the CTFA has taken on a more proactive position. We also know we can’t work alone.”
For a long time, CTFA’s battlegrounds had been limited to Congress, the Federal Trade Commission and the Food and Drug Administration, Kavanaugh said. Now, the battlegrounds have expanded both ways — locally and beyond the U.S. borders.
For the past 12 years, much of the activity has been from the states, in particular California.
Such issues have included packaging and limits on the volatile organic compounds of certain personal care products, as well as animal testing, though that debate has been relatively quiet for the past two years.
On the international front, the association is working with the cosmetics associations of such countries as Japan, China, and Thailand — areas of hot growth for U.S. cosmetic companies — to set uniform regulation standards.
CTFA is also working with COLIPA, the European trade association, on developing the nomenclature to be used in Europe to satisfy new requirements of the European Community Directive, as well as for ingredient listing similar to what is already employed in the U.S.
Adding to the complex scenario is the first Democratic administration in more than a decade. One discouraging sign early on of the Clinton administration, Kavanaugh said, was its elimination of the Competitive Council, which serves as a watchdog to burdensome regulations on businesses.
“The Nineties are going to have a different climate from the Eighties,” said Kavanaugh, who said he is still taking a wait-and-see attitude on the Clinton team. “Now, we’re seeing our safeguards disappearing.”
However, the association is looking to the administration for uniformity and hopes it will move forward with national, albeit non-burdensome, regulations on packaging and VOC limits on consumer products, which would supersede the encroaching state regulations.
At the forefront of change, Kavanaugh emphasized, is to get rid of the attitude of government against business.
“We can’t have globalization without the help of government,” said Kavanaugh, who praised President Clinton for helping to push through the North American Free Trade Agreement.
He added that over the last five years, there have been dramatic increases in U.S. cosmetic exports to Mexico as a result of the easing of local content requirements and price controls.
“As the U.S. market becomes more saturated, our members are looking for globalization.”
Kavanaugh noted that while the U.S. cosmetics industry garners 14 percent of the market share in Japan, his member companies find the market still hard to crack and are looking for barriers to be lifted.
This month, Kavanaugh is traveling to China and Thailand to meet with government officials of those countries.
On the state level, the association is fighting future regulations from California regarding the limitations of volatile organic compounds on consumer products.
At issue are standards that would take effect in 1995, which would mandate a 0 percent high VOC content in aerosol antiperspirants and deodorants.
The association is proposing that it be extended until 1999, while an interim standard would kick in 1997 that would mandate a 40 percent high VOC limit for aerosol antiperspirants and a 14 percent on aerosol deodorants.
Meanwhile, Arizona, Texas and Rhode Island are also looking at regulating consumer products, though the association last year lobbied successfully in the Arizona legislature to defer regulating VOC limits for personal care products until after EPA adopts standards for these items.
Kavanaugh said he is anxiously awaiting an EPA study, due out this spring, that measures the VOC emission rate from consumer products. If the study proves that the emissions are negligible, it would give CTFA’s position more firepower, according to organization officials.
Kavanaugh added that another big issue continues to be packaging. In Oregon, CTFA successfully lobbied for measures that exempt over-the-counter drugs from that state’s plastic packaging law, postpone that law’s enforcement and inspection provisions until Jan. 1, 1996, and simplify reporting requirements.
The association is also trying to convince California, Oregon and other states to seek an interpretation of packaging laws that will allow the use of company-wide averaging in measuring compliance with the recycled content requirements of these laws.
This would allow companies greater flexibility in meeting the required level of recycled content consistent with safety and other considerations.
“Our industry has already reduced packaging by 80 percent over a 10-year period,” he said, noting that his members are concerned about any sort of contamination that could seep into the product.
Meanwhile, the association continues to bolster its 18-year-old Cosmetic Ingredient Review, the linchpin of the association’s self-regulatory program.
Dr. Robert Elder, long-time director and scientific coordinator, retired and was succeeded by Dr. F. Alan Andersen, after 22 years with the Food and Drug Administration.
Currently, CIR is developing a database capturing the significant data elements of key reports on almost 400 ingredients.
“We want to continue to build a tremendous body of data,” Kavanaugh said.
On another front, CTFA’s “Look Good…Feel Better” program, the association’s beauty instruction program for recovering cancer patients, continues to be successful.
More than 26,000 people have enrolled in the program since its inception four years ago, and Kavanaugh claimed the program is receiving worldwide attention, with Canada launching a similar program last year.
The United Kingdom was expected to launch its own program, modeled after “Look Good…Feel Better,” in February.
Kavanaugh pointed out that “Look Good…Feel Better” shows the forward-thinking attitude that is essential for the association.
“We can’t just be locked into our bread-and-butter issues,” said Kavanaugh. “We have to be visionary.”