Tesco has unveiled plans to cut the price of over 100 women's sanitary products by 5% and will pay the so-called "tampon tax" itself.

Britain's largest retailer said the controversial tax was proving to be a "real struggle" for many of its customers, adding the change will apply to both its own-brand products as well as more famous brands.

"For many of our customers, tampons, panty liners and sanitary towels are essential products," said Michelle McEttrick, Tesco's group brand director.

"However, the cost of buying them every month can add up, and, for many women and girls, it can be a real struggle on top of other essential items.

"That's why – as a little help for our customers – we are reducing the cost of these products by 5%."

The tax on sanitary products has long been the target of campaigners, who have called for the government to scrap it on the basis that all sanitary products should be exempt by tax as they are essentials.

Last year the government lowered the rate to 5% but blamed European Union laws for preventing it from lowering it any further or eliminating altogether. Following an online petition, which received 320,088 signatures, former Prime Minister David Cameron agreed with Brussels that VAT charges should be removed from sanitary items.

Tesco had already stated it would pass on the savings onto its customers, but given the change in regulation will not come into effect until next year it has decided to fast-track the process.

Labour MP Paula Sherriff, one of the leaders of the campaign against the tampon tax in Parliament, welcomed the decision and called onto other supermarkets to follow suit.

"It would have been completely unacceptable if abolishing the tampon tax had just led to big businesses boosting their bottom line at the expense of women buying what are essential goods, which is why we pushed the supermarkets to sign up to a deal to pass the cut on," she said.

"But this goes a step even further, by reducing prices right now – and I hope the other big retailers now consider doing the same."