Walking through the isles of a drugstore and choosing which razor or which shampoo to buy is a political act. Products targeted towards men are not only coded in another color scheme than those targeted at women, they also tend to be cheaper.
On top of that, most people with uteruses buy menstrual products on a regular basis, which are expensive and are taxed differently throughout the U.S. Especially during, but not limited to, times of inflation, period poverty is a prevailing problem. About 16.9 million Americans who menstruate live in poverty in the U.S.
This gendered discrimination is called the tampon tax or pink tax, as many of these products targeted toward a female audience are branded pink.
CVS announced that it will reduce the price of its home-brand menstrual products nationwide in core CVS pharmacy locations and pay sales taxes on those products in some states.
“Women deserve quality when it comes to the products they may need each month,” CVS wrote in a statement on its website.
“I think it's ridiculous that female hygiene products are taxed,” Sydney DeLeon, a sophomore studying environmental studies and sustainability, said. “I mean, it's an obvious necessity that women need. So I don't think we should be taxed for it at all.”
Starting Oct. 13, CVS reduced prices on CVS Health brand period products including tampons, pads, cups and liners by 25% and started paying the sales tax for their customers in Arkansas, Georgia, Hawaii, Louisiana, Missouri, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Wisconsin and West Virginia.
CVS also wrote that it is “working to help eliminate the tax nationwide.”
Ohio is one step ahead of many other states in the U.S. as it dropped the tampon tax with passing Senate Bill 26, which came into effect Feb. 5, 2020. However, Ohioans will still profit from CVS's recent decision as the prices of tampons and other menstrual products were lowered in all states by 25% whether the state takes sales taxes on these products or not.
Grace Portzline, a junior studying social work, said she had heard about Ohio getting rid of the tampon tax before and that she thinks it’s a good thing.
“It's necessary,” Portzline said about menstrual products. “You shouldn't be taxed for it.”
Gianna Areali, a freshman studying health sciences with an undecided track, said she likes and supports the decision by CVS to lower prices and pay for the sales tax.
“I still don't think we should have to pay for them at all,” Areali said.
This could be one step towards the eradication of period poverty in the U.S. Data by NielsenIQ shows that the average price for tampons rose by 9.8% this year, while a package of menstrual pads is now 8.3% more expensive.
This is due to inflation but also a shortage in resources needed to produce these goods as well as staff. CVS on Court Street is no exception with some spots on the shelf being empty and some products restricted in the amount one can buy at a time.
“I think it should be an accessible price for everybody,” DeLeon said. “And obviously if they're gone, they should be restocking and making sure that we have available products.”
Overall most products are still available, however one might have to buy another brand than they are used to, as is usual. The new prices are advertised in the CVS on Court Street as well.
Bobcats facing difficulties to pay for period products can find free tampons and pads at Alden Library, Baker Center and Hudson Health Center.