Tackling the tampon tax

Deodorant, tampons, mouthwash, lotion. All four of these items are personal hygiene items, but yet only one of them is completely necessary to the health of individuals.

The United Nations declared menstrual hygiene a “public health and human rights issue” in 2013. American people with vaginas are being taxed for feminine products that they don’t have a choice in buying.

Ultimately, anyone with a vagina isn’t making the decision to have a period. They do, however, have to make the decision to use feminine products. Not using tampons or sanitary napkins during menstruation may cause infections and discomfort.

In North Dakota and Connecticut, pads for bladder dysfunction are not taxed, but tampons are. Both of these are arguably comparable, because both products are used for medical purposes. These two states, like many others, view tampons as a luxury item, not a necessity.

Only five states in the US do not have a tax on feminine products such as tampons and pads, which are much as a need as food, water, and shelter to the health and cleanliness of people with the female reproductive system.

Sales tax map
Tax on groceries data collected from Tax Foundation, the nation’s leading independent tax policy research organization.

So let’s do that math. The median price for a box of tampons at Target is $6.52. Let’s say that there are 24 in a box. Said box recommends that you change them every 6 hours 24 / 6 = 4. So 4 tampons a day. On average a woman’s period lasts 5 days. 5 x 4 = 20. Roughly, women are spending $5.43 per month on tampons. $5.43 x 12 = $65.20. The sales tax in my state, Illinois, 7.750%. Meaning women are spending $5.05 a year in tampon taxes alone. Now this doesn’t even take into account the cost of sanitary pads, pain relievers,and birth control, as well as a woman’s preferred brand or type. This is a ridiculous amount of money for an item that is in most cases non-negotiable, because it is a medical necessity.

According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Tampons and cloth pads are considered a “medical devices”, defined as:

Screen Shot 2016-03-28 at 7.58.38 AM
Screenshot courtesy of: http://www.fda.gov/AboutFDA/Transparency/Basics/ucm211822.htm

As a medical device, tampons, as well as other feminine products, should not be taxed because they are preventing disease and infection.

This taxation on such products is just another example of the sexism that has been ingrained into our laws. In fact, even the President stated in an interview Ingrid Nilsen, known as MissGlamorazzi on Youtube, that he “suspect[s] it’s because men were making the laws when those taxes were passed.”

Watch Barack Obama Speak Out Against the Tampon Tax and the Men Who Imposed It
Gif Courtesy of: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tjl8ka3F6QU

This is a national issue, and should be addressed as such. With the president on board with this, it is not question that taxation on tampons, sanitary pads, and menstrual cups needs to be removed in the remaining 40 states.