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In fairness, Tampon Tax needs to go

In fairness, Tampon Tax needs to go

Women shouldn't be singled out for a state tax on a necessary item

Maybe they could have come up with a less awkward name.

But they couldn't have come up with a better idea to erase a stigma, help poor women and girls, and even improve attendance at school.

Guys who are still embarrassed by talk of female issues, get ready to squirm. Or better yet, just grow up.

If Gov. Andrew Cuomo signs bill A7555/S7838, New York state would go against its tax-tax-tax habit by removing the 4 percent state sales tax on tampons, sanitary pads and panty liners.

Eliminating the state's so-called "Tampon Tax" (yeah, we know) would make it easier for women to afford these necessary items.

By extension, it would make it easier for some girls to get through the school day. Evidence suggests that some kids will stay home from school or leave school early because they can’t afford sanitary products.

For most girls of a certain age and women, these items are a necessity, not an option.

It makes no sense in a state that doesn't tax other items such as bandages, medicine, contraceptives and condoms to continue to tax a product as basic and essential as these are.

Essentially, the tax on feminine products is a tax on menstruation. And really, New York, does your taxing authority know no bounds?

If you think a 4 percent tax on a $7 box of tampons or pads, about 30 cents, isn't a big deal, consider this: According to the bill sponsor's memo, there are 10 million women of child-bearing age in New York. That 4 percent tax is imposed on them for about 40 years of their lives. That adds up.

And even if one considers the tax to be relatively small, it's still enough to prevent some people of certain incomes from being able to purchase the items.

It shouldn't be that way. The tax is regressive and it unfairly discriminates against more than half the population.

The tax even prompted a lawsuit from five New York women, who claim it violates women's right to equal protection under the state and federal constitutions. They've got a point.

Fortunately, the trend toward eliminating the tax across the country is growing.

Five states — Minnesota , Pennsylvania, Maryland, New Jersey and Massachusetts — specifically exempt feminine products from their respective state sales tax. California, Ohio, Utah and Virginia are considering it. Another five states don't have any sales tax, so the products are exempt there as well.

The Tampon Tax needs to be eliminated, and other steps need to be taken to ensure that women have access to the products they need.

In New York City, the entire discussion over the elimination of the Tampon Tax has led to proposed legislation that would place dispensers of free sanitary supplies in schools, homeless shelters and prisons.

Some schools in the city have already experimented with the dispensers to great praise. Girls have access to the products they need without either having to skip class, leave school or go to the school nurse.

Dispensers should be considered in other schools as well, particularly poorer districts.

This is the 21st century. Women's health issues are no longer a mystery, nor should they be taboo.

We need to address the problems they face.

Eliminating this tax will do that.

We urge the governor to sign the bill.

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