Michigan city first in US to require tampons in public toilets

DETROIT – A new ordinance in Ann Arbor, Mich. Requires all public toilets to provide users with free sanitary products, including towels and tampons, and it is believed to be the number one city in the United States to do it.

The new ordinance, which came into effect on January 1, 2022, applies to all public toilets under the plumbing code, not just municipal buildings, and regardless of gender.

“Access to menstrual products is a basic human necessity,” said Mayor of Ann Arbor, Christopher Taylor. “It’s a matter of public health and personal dignity. And it’s something that should be provided to everyone.”

The ordinance, which was passed unanimously by Ann Arbor City Council on November 15, also ensures that other sanitary products, including toilet paper, soap, paper towels and water , are also provided.

Other cities have similar measures, those that apply only to municipal buildings or schools, but none have been so comprehensive.

Taylor said the inspiration to come up with the measure came after a young Ann Arbor resident came up with the idea.

“A high school student came to me to express her concern that homeless people have difficulty obtaining menstrual products,” he said. “And that got me thinking over time, there has been advancement in schools, especially in Illinois and New York in government buildings. California has one as well. And I asked the staff to look and see if we could get all of the public toilets in Ann Arbor to provide the supplies as they are basic and basic for people.

“We can and we did.”

This comes as part of an initiative to make vintage products more accessible and affordable statewide. Earlier this month Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer signed the “Tampon Tax” bill, which exempts products like pads and tampons from certain taxes.

Taylor said the ordinance is not expected to cost the city or businesses a lot of money and that it is a low-cost opportunity that will deliver “social good.”

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He noted that many speakers and organizations across the city supported the movement ahead of the vote.

“Homeless people go about their daily lives like all of us, they have the same bodily needs as all of us, and their access to supplies that many of us don’t think about is difficult,” Taylor said. “And so, providing basic sanitation supplies to all public toilets in Arbor will be an important life-improving measure for them.”

Contact Emma Stein: [email protected] and follow her on Twitter @_emmastein.

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