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Major UK retailer becomes the first to cover the 'tampon tax' for its customers

The world already seemed determined to make women's lives as hard as possible and then a few decades ago - just for fun - the tampon tax was brought into their lives. The five percent extra tax on the cost of feminine hygiene products was something akin to a slap in the face for women everywhere, giving them yet another thing to fight tooth and nail for. Like they weren't already busy.

When tampon tax was introduced across the UK in 1973, it made the already contentious topic of menstruation even more controversial. For some reason, no one wanted to openly talk about periods in the first place, let alone discuss whether or not women should be made to pay an additional price for struggling through a week per month of upset stomachs, acne, fatigue and a whole lot of other nasty symptoms for a large portion of their lives.

The end of the tampon tax will be welcomed by women across the UK Credit: StockSnap

Despite certain people's squeamish attitudes towards the mere mention of a menstrual cycle, the following years saw feminists launch an array petitions and protests against the tax on the "luxury product". After years of struggling, it appears that the UK government is beginning to listen, with the additional cost expected to be eliminated by April 2018. But it turns out that someone else got there first.

At the end of July UK supermarket chain Tesco confirmed it was cutting the price of sanitary products to match any overall cost of these products in the UK. By doing so, the stores became the first retailer to cover the cost for their customers.

This 5 per cent reduction in price covers the five percent cost of the tax, ahead of government proposals to remove the VAT. A number of Britain's biggest retailers, including Asda, Tesco and Morrisons, pledged to save customers money on these products since earlier this year, but Tesco are the first to put the new scheme into practice.

A hundred of Tesco's own branded and other branded products will be affected by the reduction in cost. Tesco has "acted now in order to help customers with their regular shop," according to a recent press release. Michelle McEttrick, the Group Brand Director at Tesco, said:

"For many of our customers, tampons, panty liners and sanitary towels are essentials products. However, the cost of buying them every month can add up, and for many women and girls it can be a real struggle on top of other essential items. That's why – as a little help for our customers – we are reducing the cost of these products by five per cent."

Campaigners who are trying to see the end of the tampon tax welcomed the move by the retailer, and now the call has gone out to other supermarket chains to do the same. Labour MP Paula Sheriff, who has led the campaign against the tampon tax in Parliament, said:

"It would have been completely unacceptable if abolishing the tampon tax had just led to big businesses boosting their bottom line at the expense of women buying what are essential goods, which is why we pushed the supermarkets to sign up to a deal to pass the cut on. But this goes a step even further, by reducing prices right now – and I hope the other big retailers now consider doing the same."

Sheriff has made it clear that the government needs to be more clear about the future of the tax, and when the VAT will be completely abolished. While we don't know exactly how and when the tax will be removed completely, this seems to be a definite step in the right direction for the campaigners.