Pennsylvania auditor general calls for licensing tattoo parlors

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Pennsylvania Auditor General Jack Wagner today called upon the state General Assembly to enact legislation requiring the state's 750 known tattoo parlors to be licensed and regulated by the Pennsylvania Health Department.

Mr. Wagner sent a letter to Health Department Acting Secretary Michael Wolf and legislators calling for a bill that would require tattoo parlors to be licensed by the state and inspected for safety and sanitation standards set by the Health Department.

Moreover, his suggested law also would require minimum training for tattoo artists, possibly including an apprenticeship; certification of training in blood-borne pathogens, first aid and CPR; the presence of adequate liability insurance; and the issuance of fines for artists who operate illegally.

Mr. Wagner said he was shocked to learn that unlike hair salons, nail salons, and barbershops, tattoo parlors are not licensed or regulated. In fact, he said, Pennsylvania is the only state among the top 10 largest in the country to have no regulations for what he noted is a growing industry.

"When someone goes to a tattoo parlor, they should know the tattoo parlor is meeting minimum safety and sanitation standards set by Pennsylvania," Mr. Wagner said during a sidewalk press conference outside Rogue Tattoo & Body Piercing in Lawrenceville.

Travis Courtemanche, the establishment's owner, said he and most other professional tattoo artists would welcome such regulations because too many people without adequate training or sanitation practices are operating unsafe parlors, some out of their basements.

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