The Royal Thai Gazette, responsible for announcing laws and regulations in Thailand, announced on Thursday (July 22nd), that tampons are officially now classified as cosmetics in the Kingdom of Thailand.
This change means that tampons can now be subject to Thai quality control measures and rules, dependent on relevant agencies.
It is not immediately clear how Thailand will use this reclassification, although it could be used to control the sale of tampons or ensure brands meet certain quality standards. Tampons, although sold in Thailand, are not as widely used as in the west due to cultural differences and views by some sectors of society.
Tampons have previously been a topic of discussion in Thailand for tax-related reasons and debates on the cost of tax in Thailand, as well as being allegedly classified as a luxury item previously. It was not immediately apparent if the reclassification of tampons to cosmetics could affect pricing.
The text in the new order describes tampons being classified as cosmetics as needed to protect the health and safety of consumers, without describing exactly how the reclassification would do so.
There has been some online backlash soon after the announcement was made. Over 550,000 tweets were made bearing the Thai hashtag #TamponsWithoutTax by of midnight on the day of the announcement, which is now among the top Twitter trends in Thailand, as the hashtag continues to gaining traction quickly.
The regulation, signed by Minister of Public Health Anutin Charnvirakul on June 29th only involves tampons and does not include sanitary pads. According to Deputy Government Spokesperson Traisulee Traisaranakul and the Excise Department, only the 7% VAT is applied, without any additional tax.
A comment on the tampon tax from the ‘Global Citizen’ may be relevant to this move:
’The tampon tax, which taxes menstrual products as non-essential items, places an additional burden on people who menstruate and discriminates against them by making items crucial for everyday life unaffordable for some.
Around the world, 800 million people are on their periods at any given moment and it’s estimated that 500 million people live without access to adequate menstrual hygiene. Many of them end up resorting to unsafe materials to manage their periods because their schools or workplaces don’t yet provide free menstrual products. Period advocates all over the world are fighting for the tax exemption of menstrual products to ensure that everyone can manage their periods with safety and dignity.”