U.K. Vows To Abolish 'Tampon Tax' After European Union Vote

The EU has agreed to allow its members to choose whether to levy sales tax on menstrual hygiene products.

21/03/2016 4:57 PM AEDT | Updated 21/03/2016 4:57 PM AEDT

For the average woman, tampons and other sanitary products are a basic need, made necessary once every month for decades. Yet in many countries and most U.S. states, menstrual hygiene products aren’t considered necessities but “luxury goods” -- and they're taxed accordingly.

But as public pressure mounts worldwide, pressing for the abolishment of so-called “tampon taxes,” change appears to be afoot.

Last June, Canada became the first country to exempt women’s sanitary products from its sales tax. And now, it seems the U.K. is following suit.

On Friday, Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne announced that the country will be abolishing its 5 percent tax on menstrual hygiene products, reports The Guardian. The government, he said, had “heard people's anger over paying the tampon tax loud and clear.”

Provisions for the change will reportedly be included in the government's finance bill, which is due to be debated this week.  

Osborne’s announcement comes on the heels of a European Union vote to allow member states to choose whether they want to tax menstrual hygiene products.

The EU had been prompted to act at the U.K.’s urging.

“It just shows how Britain can make a case for a reform that will benefit millions as a powerful, confident voice inside a reformed EU,” Osborne said, per the BBC.

It’s unclear at this time how the EU vote and the U.K.’s announcement will impact tampon taxes in other European nations, and beyond.

Countries such as France, Australia and the United States have been facing domestic pressure to scrap the tax.

In the U.S., several state legislatures, including those in Utah, Ohio, Michigan and California, are considering proposals to classify sanitary pads and tampons as tax-exempt medical necessities. 

According to Slate, only five U.S. states -- Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Minnesota, Maryland, and New Jersey -- currently have tax exemptions for menstrual hygiene products. 

Last week, Chicago's city council voted unanimously to scrap their tampon tax

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