Local lawmaker wants to stop ‘pink tax’

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SAN DIEGO -- A local state senator is tackling the “pink tax” – the higher price of items marketed towards women than the same product for men.

It's not a new problem, but Ben Hueso is taking a new approach to eliminate it.

Deodorant, razors – the list goes on. Both men and women use these products, yet women pay more.

Hueso says it’s blatant gender discrimination.

“They shouldn’t have to pay more for them if it didn’t cost more to produce that product,” said Hueso.

So Hueso is introducing a bill – Senate Bill 899 – that would stop businesses from charging different prices for similar or like goods on the basis of gender.

“I represent a lot of constituents who have a hard time getting by every day, and who are facing non-equal pay, who are facing all sorts of economic challenges,” said Hueso. “And I think it’s just so unfair that people have to go to the store and have such few choices to begin with and still have to face that discrimination.”

A recent study by the New York City Department of Consumer Affairs found that toys, accessories, clothing and personal products geared to women cost more 42 percent of the time.

“This is for you, this is for boys, you know…and so you kind of grow up with the mindset and sometimes a lot of women say, ‘oh, no I can’t use men’s products’ or ‘this is geared towards me because it’s going to help my skin, or it has moisturizers,’ and it’s pretty much the same results,” said Consumer Estela Flores.

For Flores and many women on a fixed income, every dollar counts. She’s frustrated because she says she shouldn’t have to struggle to pay for items just because she’s a woman.

“It’s unbelievable that we’re still dealing with these types of issues as far as gender goes,” said Flores.

San Diego State University marketing professor George Belch, Ph.D. says companies simply charge more because they know women will pay for it.

“We don’t like to challenge the merchants, we don’t like to necessarily challenge our hairstylists or drycleaner but in the end, that is really what has to be done in order to correct this inequity,” said Belch.

He says laws can help but it’s up to the consumer to help create equity in the marketplace.

“We can’t rely totally on government. We can’t wait for legislation. Many women who see this story should take it upon themselves to say, ‘I’m going to change my purchase behavior. I’m going to challenge the discrimination that’s occurring in the marketplace.’”

Hueso is hoping to have the bill signed by October and in effect by January of 2017.