One reason that tampons and other "feminine hygiene" products are subject to sales taxes in many states is that most laws have historically reflected the overwhelming political influence of males. This is not intended as a feminist indictment of men; it is, however, acknowledgement that the issue of the so-called "tampon tax" has only taken on greater urgency as women have more vigorously asserted themselves in political processes. Exemptions from state sales taxes usually reflect interpretations of what constitutes "necessities" as opposed to "luxuries." Tampons, douches, wipes and other such items are categorized as "personal hygiene" and are treated the same as antiperspirant, mouthwash, soap, toothpaste, haircare products, etc. While one can, and should, argue that toothpaste and certain other personal hygiene items are, in fact, medical necessities, as the failure to use such items does lead to health problems, but this is the fact of the situation. Certainly, deodorant and other items are not "necessities," in that their use is not vital to survival, but tampons in particular are a necessity given the natural, inevitable and often-inconvenient fact of life that is menstruation. Concern about the inevitability of menstruation, however, has historically been unique to the only gender that must endure this monthly condition. Because women were marginalized politically for so many decades, and continue to be underrepresented relative to their proportion of the nation's population, it has taken this long for the issue of the "tampon tax" to be addressed.
Tampons should not be subject to the luxury tax. They are a necessity. It's been a while since the 1989 decision by the Supreme Court for the State of Illinois in Geary v. Dominick's Finer Foods, in which that state's highest court arrived at the following conclusion with regard to the need for tampons by those who use them:
"Clearly tampons and sanitary napkins are necessities of life for a vast number of post-pubescent women. These products are virtually the only ones available to and used by women during menstruation. No reasonable alternative product exists."
This 1989 decision represented an important legal victory for women, but the fact that women continue to have to agitate politically over an issue of such sensitivity illuminates the distance yet to go.