Bill passes in NYC requiring free tampons, pads in public schools, shelters, jails

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CITY HALL, N.Y. — New York City lawmakers passed legislation Tuesday afternoon that grants free access to tampons and sanitary pads to thousands in public schools, homeless shelters and jails across the city.

The set of bills, headed by City Council member Julissa Ferreras-Copeland, comes at a time when states and municipalities nationwide are working to eliminate the tax on feminine hygiene products, dubbed the “tampon tax.”

“Menstrual hygiene products are as necessary as toilet paper and should be treated as basic bathroom supplies,” Copeland said in a statement. “Providing menstrual hygiene products privately, immediately and for free is also about sending a body-positive message by not perpetuating shame and humiliation, and acknowledging that women’s bodies, even those of women serving time in prison, deserve some dignity during their periods.”

About 300,000 female students in grades 6 through 12 in 800 public schools will be given access to free pads and tampons in school bathrooms under the new law. Additionally, The city will have to provide female inmates and girls in juvenile prison, as well as those arrested and detained for at least 48 hours, with products upon request.

City-run temporary shelters — including those for families, children in foster care, and domestic violence survivors — will also supply its residents with needed feminine hygiene products.

The bills are expected to be approved by mayor Bill de Blasio, whose administration has voiced its support of the legislation. The laws would take effect 120 days after they’re signed into law.

Various advocates lauded the bills, including NYC Planned Parenthood CEO Joan Malin and Nancy Kramer, founder of the national campaign “Free the Tampons.”

City Council also urged Gov. Andrew Cuomo to sign into law a bill that would eliminate the “tampon tax” throughout the state. The state legislature passed the bill last month that would exempt female hygiene products from all state and local sale taxes.

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