MINNEAPOLIS — For many, their period can be a setback.
Some may even face the hard decision to either buy food or buy tampons.
"There's two out of five individuals that have identified as struggling to afford this product," said Jennifer Gaines, with Alliance for Period Supplies. "They're suffering in silence about the stigma and living in poverty."
Gaines is hoping to change the narrative.
"The Alliance for Period Supplies is a national organization that helps to support over 130 individually operated nonprofit organizations across the country that share a similar mission to end period poverty," said Gaines.
According to a national study, one in five teens say they struggle to afford period products. Several states have also passed laws requiring menstrual products to be available for free in middle and high school bathrooms.
In Minnesota, State Rep. Sandra Feist (D-New Brighton) introduced legislation requiring menstrual product access in school districts, including funding.
Tampons and pads are a necessity, but many states still tax them.
"Tampon tax is in 22 states currently across the country, are taxed as luxury items, so across the country, there are millions of people who menstruate who require period products to manage their cycles," she said. "We also work to advance period legislation to remove this tampon tax."
In Minnesota, feminine hygiene products like sanitary napkins, tampons or similar items used for feminine hygiene are exempt. In Wisconsin, there's still a 5% tax on these products.
But starting today, CVS Health is reducing the prices of store-brand period products in its stores by 25% and absorbing the cost of the "pink tax" on menstrual products in its stores in 12 states, including Wisconsin.
According to the company, there are laws in 13 states that prohibit any organization from covering the tax on any product.
"It just makes products more accessible to people and you would love to see companies take on that piece of it, and say, 'We can't control the taxation, but we can lower the cost to make sure it's accessible for all,'" said Geoff Davis, with Periodkits MN.
The removal of taxes on products is something advocates say is at the heart of menstrual equity. According to reports, a person can use as many as 16,000 tampons in a lifetime, with one in five saying they're unable to access support products. Not having those resources can result in missing school and work, according to Global Citizen.
"It just has a disproportionately negative impact on people in poverty," said Gaines.
But in the end, advocates like Gaines are hoping to lift the stigma, turning that time of the month into a time of change.
"We applaud CVS for doing this because we can not do this alone," she said.
CVS is also lowering prices on CVS Health brand feminine hygiene products, including UTI meds, pregnancy tests and vaginal ointments.
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