It was a beautiful day at Point Lookout town beach when a swarm of news people and town employees were following Town Supervisor Anthony Santino around the coastline while he distributed free packets of sunscreen to beachgoers.
“What just happened?’ questioned one beachgoer as she sat in disbelief after receiving a packet of sunscreen from Santino. “What is all the fuss?”
Moments earlier, the town supervisor had held a press conference on the sand, announcing the town’s Sun Safety program. Through donations made by local businesses, the town will be distributing 2,500 packets of sunscreen to beach goers, and 600 bottles of sunscreen to its lifeguards as a way to get the message out about its importance.
“According to Skin Cancer Foundation, one in five Americans will develop skin cancer in the course of their lifetime,” said Santino. “Each year in the United States, over 5.4 million cases of non-melanoma skin cancer are treated in more than 3.3 million people. Over the past three decades, more people have had skin cancer, than all other cancers combined.”
Underwriting for the sun screen packets came from Maliblue Oyster Bar and donations from Pop’s Seafood Shack covered the cost of the sunscreen for the lifeguards.
When asked how long he anticipated the available sunscreen packets would last, Santino said the program was not permanent, but a way to inform people about the dangers of skin cancer and the simple steps they can take to protect themselves. “We are looking at several initiatives about providing sunscreen on a more permanent basis, but we’re not there yet,” said Santino. “This is just a tool to heighten awareness.”
In late June, New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer announced that the city might soon provide its public parks, beaches, pools and playgrounds with free sunscreen dispensers. Boston and Miami, it has been reported in recent months, were first to lead the way in free sunscreen for its residents when free dispensers were installed last year. Funding for their programs is supplied by public health non-profit organizations, like area hospitals and the Melanoma Foundation of New England.