They scrapped the tampon tax – now start giving them out for free in loos

It would be like a utopia


The words “the Budget” have a soporific effect. On the other hand, the word “tampons” is enervating. You don’t ignore a sentence with the word tampons in it. TAMPONS.

In his speech on the economy this week, George Osborne claimed that he was close abolishing the 5 per cent tax on female hygiene products: the so-called “tampon tax”.

“I said we would get agreement that we could reduce this rate to zero,” he said. “And I think we are on the verge of getting that international agreement … I think we are going to get that agreement in the next few days, we hope.”

Basically, it’s all the EU’s fault: it is their ruling on VAT that means we’re still being charged a premium on our vaginas. I don’t agree with George Osborne about most things, but if this comes to pass I’ll tweet him my gratitude (“thanks for the cheaper TAMPONS @George_Osborne x“).

UPDATE: on Thursday evening, Osborne secured a deal to do so. I tweeted.

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Reducing the tampon tax should be a priority. But I imagine a more ambitious utopia: a world in which tampons are dispensed for free in all loos. Boxes of them, everywhere. Little bowls of them, in more upmarket places.

No frills or pastel colours though. I want cool, minimalist bowls. Angular. Industrial chic.

So, for a start – workplaces should put free tampons in the loos. That would measurably improve my life. Gyms should put free tampons in the loos. Cafes should put free tampons in the loos. Libraries should put free tampons in the loos. Restaurants should put free tampons in the loos. Cinemas should put free tampons in the loos.

Firstly, for half of the population, for about four days a month, tampons are as essential as loo roll. Also, those tampon machines are expensive, dispense painful, outdated tampons. The technology has moved on and sticking a roll of dry cotton up your vagina will not pass muster. Oh, and the machines are usually broken. The one at my school had not dispensed a tampon since the 80s, probably.

Also, sometimes you don’t know you need one until you realise you definitely do. I don’t carry a contingency tampon all the time – or rather I do, but it’s that one without an applicator that’s been rolling around in the detritus of my tote bag for 18 months. Every girl has one of these and they are useless. I need fresh ones, in the cubicle.

Or maybe you have them in your bag, but you wore a T-shirt instead of something long-sleeved today (you fool!) and so you cannot roll down your sleeves to conceal the fact you are carrying one across the room. You know you shouldn’t be embarrassed about it but you are – you do not want to wield a totem that you’re bleeding out of your vagina. Especially not if you work with boys – but to be honest, I’m quite squeamish about telling anyone I’m on my period. Lots of people are – they don’t want to ask a female colleague if they can borrow one. Perhaps you don’t mind asking, but it turns out no one in the office has one anyway.

Yeah, a few people might take the piss and steal loads. But that doesn’t really happen with loo roll; women are quite restrained. I don’t think we’d all be running gleefully out of public loos with tampons spilling out of our undergarments like teenaged shoplifters.

In my kingdom, this is the first rule I would enact. It would make things cleaner (literally), easier and there’d be less fannying around.