Ann Arbor, Mich., becomes first U.S. city to mandate free tampons, pads in public restrooms

Walmart store shelves are stocked with menstrual pads and tampons. File Photo by Stilfehler/<a href="">Wikimedia Commons&nbsp;</a>
Walmart store shelves are stocked with menstrual pads and tampons. File Photo by Stilfehler/Wikimedia Commons 

Nov. 18 (UPI) -- Ann Arbor, Mich., has become the first city in the United States to mandate that free tampons and pads must be in all public restrooms.

The City Council voted unanimously Monday night to approve the new local ordinance, which city officials said is the first of its kind, reported.


The new ordinance, published Thursday on the City Clerk's webpage, takes effect on January 1.

"City Council finds that soap, toilet paper, and menstrual products are all instrumental to the general health and welfare of the public," the ordinance reads. "City Council also finds that ensuring that such products are readily available in public restrooms will help prevent the spread of germs, reduce the transmission of blood borne pathogens, and improve the general public welfare."

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The sanitary products are to be provided "at no cost," the ordinance said, and violations of the ordinance are punishable by a fine up to $100.

The ordinance applies to restrooms available to customers, patrons, visitors, employees, licensees, invitees, students, or other members of the public, as defined in the Michigan Plumbing Code.


It applies without regard to gender designation and is more expansive than other cities, which just apply similar measures to municipal buildings or schools, USA Today reported.

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"Access to menstrual products is a fundamental human necessity," Ann Arbor Mayor Christopher Taylor told USA Today. "It's a matter of public health and personal dignity. And it's something that should be provided to everyone."

Taylor added that it should not cost the city or businesses a lot of money, and it's an opportunity to provide a "social good," for "people without established residences" who may otherwise have difficulty obtaining such products.

Earlier this month, Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed a bill to repeal the tax on essential menstrual products, such as tampons.

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