CVS cuts cost of menstrual products in 12 states with ‘tampon tax’

CVS Health is cutting the prices of menstrual products in 12 states, including Texas, where efforts to repeal the so-called “tampon tax” have so far failed. The chain is also reviewing other items to ensure that women’s products, such as razors and shaving cream, are not priced higher than those marketed to men.

The drugstore chain said it will cut the cost of CVS Health brand tampons, menstrual pads, liners and cups by 25 percent at central locations on or before Thursday, Oct. 13.

CVS earlier this month began paying sales tax on period products in a dozen states: Arkansas, Georgia, Hawaii, Louisiana, Missouri, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, West Virginia and Wisconsin, according to the company .

Some states have laws against organizations paying taxes on behalf of customers, noted CVS, which operates 9,900 retail stores in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico.

“period poverty”

In about half the country, menstrual hygiene products are considered luxuries rather than necessities and are not exempt from sales tax – leaving low-income people struggling to afford them.

The idea of ​​imposing a sales tax on products that half the population needs for a significant part of their lives has been criticized in some circles for decades, with 21 states currently engaged in the practice, according to USA Facts . As of 2016, 24 states have exempted menstrual products from state sales tax, while five states have no sales tax at all, the nonprofit data source said.

“Period poverty is a common but hidden and stigmatized public health issue in the United States and worldwide,” according to Jhumka Gupta, associate professor at George Mason University. “It can reduce women’s participation in school and in the workplace,” Gupta said of a 2021 study that found one in 10 college women lack access to menstrual hygiene products.

As of 2021, five states — Arkansas, Delaware, Montana, New Hampshire and Oregon — had no sales tax. At the same time, 15 states exempted period products from sales tax: California, Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Utah, and Washington.

Since then, other states have followed suit. Colorado in August stopped charging sales tax in diapers, incontinence and menstrual products.

In Texas, menstrual products are listed as “wound care bandages” under the state tax code, but are still subject to state tax, while male libido enhancers and gender-neutral products like Band-Aids are not. subject to

But one lawmaker, state Sen. Joan Huffman, has vowed to pass legislation exempting feminine hygiene products from the sales tax next year. “I look forward to working with my colleagues to get this done next session,” the Houston Republican tweeted in August.

The issue is not unique to America. Scotland has recently become the first country to mandate menstrual products to be made available free of charge to anyone who needs them.

“Gender inequality, extreme poverty, humanitarian crises and harmful traditions can all turn menstruation into a time of deprivation and stigma, which can undermine the enjoyment of their basic human rights,” said the United Nations Population Fund. in May.

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