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Cuomo signs law on labeling of ingredients in menstrual products

New York State Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo speaks

New York State Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo speaks to reporters on Sept. 18, 2019. Credit: Charles Eckert

ALBANY — A new law will require menstrual products sold in New York to reveal all their ingredients after women reported allergic reactions from poorly marked or unmarked tampons, pads and related products.

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo signed several other bills into law Friday, including one to help homeless youths.

“This first-in-the-nation disclosure law firmly establishes New York as a national leader on menstrual equity,” said the bill’s co-sponsor, Assemb. Linda Rosenthal (D-Manhattan). “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."

Tampons, menstrual pads and related products for girls and women have often carried little or no information about the ingredients they contain because of a loophole in laws regarding the packaging of most products.

"It's part of the pervasive culture of inequality in our society that has gone on for too long,” Cuomo said. “That injustice ends today."

The concern about toxic exposure by these products was most acute in minority communities.

“People who menstruate, especially those who live in communities of color where there are disproportionate levels of toxic exposure, have a fundamental right to this information — especially considering the health risks some ingredients like nanosilver pose,” said Cecil Corbin-Mark, director of policy Initiatives at WE ACT for Environmental Justice.

The law becomes effective in late January, but it won’t be enforced with civil fines for another 18 months after that, according to the bill, which was called the Period Product Labeling Act and saw several revisions and strong lobbying in Albany. The civil violations will be equal to 1 percent of the manufacturer’s sales in New York State up to $1,000 per package or box sold without ingredients printed or affixed to packages, according to the law.

Another bill signed into law Friday will require that organizations which serve homeless and runaway youths are trained in the issues specific to gay, lesbian and transgender people. The training will include the correct terms to use when helping the youths.

“It's essential that our shelter system be equipped to handle the distinct challenges these youths face,” said the bill's co-sponsor, Sen. Brad Hoylman (D-Manhattan). “With this new law, providers of runaway and homeless youth services across the state will finally have the tools they need to serve LGBTQ kids with the dignity and compassion they deserve.”

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