Women’s Health

Texas becomes the 24th state to drop the ‘tampon tax’

The new law removes the 6.25% sales tax on period products, such as tampons, pads, and menstrual cups.
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Texas eliminated the sales tax on menstrual products—the “tampon tax”—via a new bipartisan law that took effect September 1.

The law, which is expected to cost the state $28.6 million in lost revenue annually, removed the 6.25% sales tax on period products. It also reclassified period products as essential goods—a category that includes over-the-counter medications and other medical products—instead of luxury products. Under the Texas law, period products include tampons, menstrual cups and sponges, sanitary napkins, and other items “sold for the principal purpose of feminine hygiene in connection with the menstrual cycle.”

“Every woman knows that these products are not optional,” Texas state Senator Joan Huffman said in a statement when she introduced the bill earlier this year. “They are essential to our health and well-being and should be tax exempt.”

The cost of period products can add up.

On average, patients spend about 10 years, or 3,500 days, of their life menstruating, according to the American Medical Association (AMA). Individuals who menstruate spend ~$1,800 over the course of a lifetime on period products like tampons and pads, the AMA estimated in 2020. Then factor in rising prices and inflation: Last year, for example, consumers saw the average price for tampons rise almost 10%, Bloomberg reported.

Individuals from lower-income backgrounds may also feel the brunt of the costs.

In the US, of the 16.9 million people who menstruate and are living in poverty, about two-thirds were unable to afford period products in 2021, according to a 2022 report from the Journal of the Global Health Reports. Medicaid and other federal assistance programs don’t typically cover period product costs, the New York Times reported.

The inability to afford period products may harm a patient’s health, and in a 2020 study from researchers at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, it led to “poor menstrual hygiene and decreased participation in work and other activities.”

The AMA added that menstruating people who use “makeshift sanitation products” as an alternative to costly period products may experience “dangerous physical health impacts such as vaginal and urinary tract infections, severe reproductive health conditions, and toxic shock syndrome.”

Across the country, other organizations and retailers are working to make period products more accessible. Last year, CVS announced it would cover the sales tax on these products for consumers in certain states that still tax period products. The company also reduced the price of CVS Health brand period products by 25% last October.

“Women have long faced systemic barriers on their path to better health—from access to affordability to stigma,” Michelle Peluso, chief customer officer of CVS Health and copresident of CVS Pharmacy, told USA Today. “We hope our actions help break down barriers and close gaps, while also inspiring other companies to follow our lead.”

Navigate the healthcare industry

Healthcare Brew covers pharmaceutical developments, health startups, the latest tech, and how it impacts hospitals and providers to keep administrators and providers informed.