WATERTOWN — Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo on Friday signed a first-in-the-nation law requiring that plain and conspicuous ingredient labels be placed on menstrual products to protect girls and women and allow them to make more informed purchasing decisions.
This legislation will take effect in 180 days, with product manufacturers having 18 months to develop new packaging or labels with ingredients listed. While menstrual products are widely used by women across the United States, they are often marketed with little to no information about what they contain.
“Practically every product on the market today is required to list its ingredients, yet these items have inexplicably evaded this basic consumer protection,” Gov. Cuomo said in a statement on Friday. “It’s part of the pervasive culture of inequality in our society that has gone on for too long, and that injustice ends today as we become the first state in the nation to mandate ingredient disclosure and empower women to make their own decisions about what goes into their bodies.”
This legislation comes on the Day of the Girl, a day when activist groups come together to take action to advance rights and opportunities for girls everywhere.
In 2011, the United Nations declared Oct. 11 as the International Day of the Girl Child with the mission: “to help galvanize worldwide enthusiasm for goals to better girls’ lives, providing an opportunity for them to show leadership and reach their full potential.”
“Now that my bill to require menstrual product ingredient disclosure on packaging has become law, every single New Yorker who uses tampons and pads will know exactly what’s in the products they use in and on some of the most sensitive parts of their bodies,” said Assemblywoman Linda B. Rosenthal in a statement on Friday. Menstrual product ingredient disclosure is a vital consumer empowerment tool, and will hold menstrual product manufacturers to the highest level of accountability. It is my hope that more states follow suit.”
Assemblywoman Rosenthal also introduced legislation in 2016 to exempt tampons from the state sales tax. The Assembly voted unanimously to pass it in March of the same year.
In 2018, Gov. Cuomo signed legislation requiring all public schools to provide free feminine hygiene products in restrooms, as well as legislation to provide free feminine hygiene products to women in state and local correctional facilities.
With this new legislation, New York becomes the first state to advance period equity through statute, in the process raising awareness about periods, how to access menstrual hygiene products, and ensuring these products are safe, according to a release.
“We want to make sure the ingredients in menstrual products are transparent and safe for young girls and women,” said Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul Friday. “This important step builds on our efforts to expand access to menstrual products, requiring schools with students in grades six through 12 to have feminine hygiene products available.”
“With increased access to menstrual products and disclosure of ingredients, we are addressing the issue and the stigma, and continuing to ensure equality for all women and girls in New York.”