Nilsen asked Obama, "Recently, I was shocked to learn that pads, tampons and other menstrual products are taxed as luxury goods in 40 states. And I don't know anyone who has a period that thinks it's a luxury."Nielsen said she wondered how the tax even came to be, to which Obama answered: "I have no idea why states would tax these as luxury items. I suspect it's because men were making the laws when those taxes were passed."
Obama responded, "I think that's fair to say. [First lady] Michelle [Obama] would agree with you on that."
Obama urged women in states with tampon taxes to organize to change the laws, explaining that because they were not federal, he did not have jurisdiction. He proposed that activists target governors and state legislatures.The YWCA in Tucson launched Project Period this past December, as part of the beginning stages of its efforts advocating for tampons and pads to become more affordable, especially for women living in poverty, and homeless women. By the spring, the organization hopes to collaborate with state legislators to eventually introduce a bill that would make tampons and pads exempt from any taxation.
Women on food stamps cannot use the benefit to purchase tampons or pads, again, because they are considered luxury products.During the first month, the YWCA received close to 15,000 donations of boxes of tampons, pads, and other feminine products.
As of now, there hasn't been a bill introduced in the Arizona Legislature that addresses the tampon tax, and this doesn't surprise Fryer.
"It is barely coming into focus for people across the country, and also here in Arizona," she says, adding that a California state lawmaker recently proposed getting rid of the tampon tax. "Our focus these couple of months is creating infrastructure for the collection drive and contribution locally. [Then] developing a strategy for addressing the policy-related issues in Arizona, both as a state and locally."
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