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SN 2001(3)

Sales and Use Tax Exemptions for Nonprescription Drugs and Medicines and Smoking Cessation Products

This publication has been superseded by IP 2007(10)

Purpose: This Special Notice describes the sales and use tax exemption for certain nonprescription drugs and medicines, as described in Conn. Gen. Stat. §12-412(48), which was amended in 2000 to remove references to “human” and “person” to clarify that the exemption applies to over-the-counter veterinary medicines.

In addition, this Special Notice describes a new exemption for smoking cessation products approved in 2001.

Effective Date: The amendment to Conn. Gen. Stat. §12-412(48) to include over-the-counter veterinary medicines is effective for sales of such medicines made on or after October 1, 2000. The new exemption for smoking cessation products in  Conn. Gen. Stat. §12-412(111) is effective for sales of such products made on or after July 1, 2001.

Statutory Authority: Conn. Gen. Stat. §12-412(48), as amended by 2000 Conn. Pub. Acts 174, §11, and Conn. Gen. Stat. §12-412(111).

Nonprescription Drugs and Medicines Exempt Under Conn. Gen. Stat. §12-412(48): The following is a list of the nonprescription drugs and medicines that may be purchased under Conn. Gen. Stat. §12-412(48).  These nonprescription drugs or medicines may be purchased for internal or external use.

  • Analgesics
  • Anesthetics
  • Antacids
  • Anthelmintics
  • Antibiotic, antibacterial, antiviral, and antifungal medicines
  • Antidiarrheal medicines
  • Antihistamines
  • Antiseptics
  • Astringents
  • Cough, cold, asthma, or allergy medicines
  • Dietary supplements
  • Emetics and antiemetics
  • Eye, ear, or nose medications
  • Laxatives
  • Natural or herbal drugs or medicines
  • Steroidal medicines
  • Vitamin or mineral concentrates

Prescription drugs and medicines, diabetic supplies, and certain medical equipment are exempt under separate provisions of Conn. Gen. Stat. §12-412.

Smoking Cessation Products: Conn. Gen. Stat. §12-412(111) provides an exemption for specially formulated gum, inhalants, or similar products (including patches and tablets) designed to aid in the cessation of a smoking habit.  Conn. Gen. Stat. §12-412(111) is effective for sales of these products that are made on or after July 1, 2001.

Definitions of Categories of Exempt Drugs and Medicines: The following are brief definitions and descriptions of each of the categories of nonprescription drugs and medicines that are listed in or exempted by Conn. Gen. Stat. §12-412(48):


Drugs and medicines intended to reduce or eliminate pain, fever, or inflammation; includes aspirin and other salicylates, acetaminophen, ibuprophen, and naproxen.


Drugs and medicines intended to deaden or cause insensitivity to pain; includes benzocaine and lidocaine.


Products intended to prevent, neutralize, or reduce stomach acid and to prevent or reduce gas, nausea, and bloating.


Drugs or medicines intended to expel or destroy worms, such as roundworms and tapeworms.

Antibiotic, Antibacterial, Antiviral, and Antifungal Medicines

Drugs and medicines intended to destroy or inhibit the growth of bacteria, viruses, fungi (including yeasts), and other microorganisms.

Antidiarrheal Medicines

Products intended to relieve diarrhea.


Products containing antihistamines (or “histamine blockers”) intended to be taken for a variety of symptoms and conditions, including allergies and allergic reactions, coughs, colds, insomnia, insect bites, itching, drowsiness, nausea, and motion sickness.


Products intended to clean wounds or sores and destroy or inhibit the growth of microorganisms; includes rubbing alcohol, hydrogen peroxide, and iodine.


Products intended to draw together or constrict tissue; includes alum, styptics, witch hazel, and zinc oxide.

Cough, Cold, Asthma, or Allergy Medicines

Products intended to be taken for relief from coughs, colds, influenza, asthma, or allergies, such as products containing analgesics, antihistamines, cough suppressants and expectorants, individually or in combination with one another.  These products are usually intended to eliminate or reduce associated symptoms such as fever, chills, pain, coughing, sore throat, wheezing, nasal congestion, dryness, headache, insomnia, or drowsiness.

Dietary Supplements

Products specifically designed and marketed as nutritional supplements or dietary enhancements.

Dietary supplements generally include specific vitamins, minerals, protein, carbohydrates, fiber, or other nutritional substances.

Dietary supplements are usually sold as food items (such as nutritional food bars, drinks, or drink mixes), diet and weight loss products, “fat burning” products, weight gain products, health food products, bodybuilding or strength enhancing products, or as drugs and medicines. This definition applies to human use and does not apply to animal use.

Dietary supplements for animals are exempt only if they are specifically designed and marketed as dietary supplements in the form of vitamins, minerals, tonics, and other nutritional substances to be given to an animal, in addition to, rather than instead of, its regular food. Food for animals, including specially formulated food, is taxable. See Policy Statement 2001(9), Sales and Use Taxes on Sales and Purchases Made by Veterinarians

Emetics and Antiemetics

Products intended to induce or prevent vomiting.

Eye, Ear, or Nose Medications

Products intended to be used in or on the eyes, ears, or nose.


Products intended to stimulate evacuation of the bowels, including stool softeners and enemas.

Natural or Herbal Drugs or Medicines

All types of drugs, medicines, vitamins, minerals, and dietary supplements that are derived or made from natural, herbal, or vegetable sources or substances.

Steroidal Medicines

Products containing steroids intended for the relief of pain, inflammation, itching, and other symptoms; includes hydrocortisone.

Vitamin or Mineral Concentrates

Vitamin or mineral preparations, such as multivitamins, multivitamins plus minerals, individual vitamins, individual minerals, or any combination thereof, for internal or external use.

List of Common Exempt Items: Many of the nonprescription drugs and medicines that are listed in Conn. Gen. Stat. §12-412(48) are readily identifiable based on the definitions above. However, some products contain as active ingredients more than one category of drug or medicine, or are not easy to identify based solely on their names.

The following is a list of nonprescription products that usually consist of or contain drugs and medicines listed in Conn. Gen. Stat. §12-412(48) as their active ingredients, and that are therefore exempt:

  • Acne creams, lotions, and pads with benzoyl peroxide
  • Allergy pills and creams
  • Aloe vera gel
  • Alum
  • Antacid pills, chewable tablets, and liquids
  • Anti-itch creams and sprays
  • Arthritis creams and rubs
  • Astringent skin cleansers, lotions, and pads
  • Athlete’s foot medicines
  • Bandages medicated with antiseptics or antibiotics
  • Boric acid
  • Burn sprays, creams, and ointments
  • Calamine lotion
  • Canker sore medicines
  • Cold and flu medicines
  • Cold sore medicines
  • Contact lens cleaning and disinfecting solutions
  • Cough drops and lozenges
  • Diaper rash creams with zinc oxide
  • Diarrhea medicines 
  • Diet and weight loss products consisting primarily of vitamins or minerals
  • Ear drops
  • Ear wax removal products
  • Echinacea
  • Eczema creams
  • Enemas
  • Epsom salt
  • Eye drops
  • Eye washes
  • Fever reducing medicines
  • Foot creams, soaks, sprays, and powders (except foot deodorants)
  • Garlic pills
  • Gas relief or prevention medicines
  • Ginkgo biloba
  • Ginseng
  • Hemorrhoidal ointments, suppositories, and swabs
  • Hydrocortisone creams
  • Hydrogen peroxide
  • Insect bite creams and sprays
  • Iodine
  • Ipecac syrup
  • Laxatives and cathartics
  • Lip balms
  • Medicated chest rubs
  • Medicated douches
  • Menopause symptom products
  • Menstrual or premenstrual symptom products
  • Menthol gel
  • Milk of magnesia
  • Nasal sprays and drops
  • Nutritional food drinks, powders, and bars
  • Pain relievers
  • Pediatric electrolyte and fluid replacement products
  • Poison ivy creams and sprays
  • Psoriasis creams
  • Rubbing alcohol and alcohol swabs
  • Saline solution for contact lenses
  • Skin creams with zinc oxide
  • Sleep aids
  • Sore throat sprays
  • Sports creams
  • St. John’s wort
  • Stool softeners
  • Styptic pencils
  • Sunburn sprays, creams, and ointments
  • Talcum powder medicated with zinc oxide or menthol
  • Teething and tooth pain medicines
  • Urinary pain relief products
  • Vitamin and mineral tablets, capsules, and creams
  • Wart, corn, and bunion removal medicines with salicylic acid
  • Witch hazel
  • Yeast infection medicines
  • Zinc oxide creams

This list is not all-inclusive.  Please refer to the definitions of categories of exempt drugs and medicines above and the lists of taxable items below.

Taxable Items Specifically Excluded from the Exemption: Conn. Gen. Stat. §12-412(48) specifically excludes several categories of items from the exemption.  The following categories of items are taxable, even if they contain drugs or medicines:

  • Cosmetics
  • Dentifrices (toothpaste, tooth powder, dental floss, denture cream, denture cleaner, etc.)
  • Deodorants (underarm, foot, feminine, etc.)
  • Hair care products (shampoo, conditioner, hairspray, dandruff remedies, etc.)
  • Mouthwash
  • Shaving products (shaving cream, aftershave lotion, depilatories, etc.)
  • Soaps (skin, body, facial, foot, etc.)

Products that are marketed as items in these categories remain subject to sales and use taxes.  For example, mouthwashes are not exempt even though they contain antiseptics such as alcohol or hydrogen peroxide or are labeled “antiseptic.” Likewise, medicated cosmetics, medicated toothpaste, medicated aftershave lotion or shaving cream, medicated soap, medicated shampoo and dandruff treatments, and medicated deodorants are not exempt, regardless of how they are labeled.

Other Taxable Items Not Included in the Exemption: The following nonprescription items are not exempt because they do not contain one of the categories of exempt drugs and medicines among their active ingredients.  This list is not all-inclusive:

  • Appetite suppressants whose active ingredients are caffeine or phenylpropanolamine
  • Bandages and wound dressings (unless medicated with antiseptics or antibiotics)
  • Caffeine products for drowsiness
  • Contraceptive products
  • Cotton swabs
  • Diuretics
  • Hair growing products with minoxidil
  • Hair removal products
  • Lice treatment products
  • Lubricating jelly
  • Mineral oil
  • Moisturizers
  • Petroleum jelly
  • Sanitary napkins and tampons
  • Skin, hand, face, and body creams and lotions (unless medicated with zinc oxide or benzoyl peroxide)
  • Suntan lotion, sunscreens, and sunblocks

Effect on Other Documents: Special Notice 2001(3) modifies and supersedes Special Notice 99(12), Sales and Use Tax Exemption for Nonprescription Drugs and Medicines, which may no longer be relied upon on or after the date of issuance of this publication.

Effect of This Document: A Special Notice is a document that announces a new policy or practice in response to changes in State or federal laws or regulations or to judicial decisions.  A Special Notice indicates an informal interpretation of Connecticut tax law by DRS and may be referred to for general guidance by taxpayers or tax practitioners.  

For Further Information:  Please call DRS during business hours, Monday through Friday:

  • 1-800-382-9463 (toll-free within Connecticut), or
  • 860-297-5962 (from anywhere)

TTY, TDD, and Text Telephone users only may transmit inquiries 24 hours a day by calling 860-297-4911.

SN 2001(3)
Sales and Use Taxes
Nonprescription Medicine
Issued: 10/31/2001