THURSDAY, Oct. 13, 2022 (HealthDay News) — CVS Health announced Wednesday that it will lower the prices of its brand of menstrual products by 25 percent in 12 states that tax tampons, pads, and similar items.

Twenty-one states tax these essential products, according to USA Facts. But their high cost can be tough on low-income women, advocates say.

“Period poverty is a common, yet hidden and stigmatized, public health issue in the United States and globally,” Jhumka Gupta, an associate professor at George Mason University in Virginia, told CBS News. “It can reduce women’s participation in school and the workplace.” Gupta published a study in 2021 that showed 10 percent of college women cannot access menstrual hygiene products.

CVS Health has already started paying sales taxes on the products in Arkansas, Georgia, Hawaii, Louisiana, Missouri, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, West Virginia, and Wisconsin. But it cannot pay the taxes in every state, because some do not allow organizations to pay customer taxes, CBS News reported.

While some states view menstrual hygiene products as luxury items, they are necessities that can be hard for low-income people to afford, health experts said. A double standard exists in places like Texas, which requires state tax on menstrual products, listed as “wound care dressings,” while not taxing male libido enhancers or gender-neutral products like Band-Aids, CBS News reported. Other countries face similar issues: Scotland recently was the first to mandate free menstrual products.

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

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