Sunday, August 19, 2012

AB 300: The Safe Body Art Act

Last week I went to a meeting in Auburn to meet with representatives from the Placer County Health Department and other tattoo shops. The purpose? To discuss the new law that went into effect in July: AB 300 known as The Safe Body Art Act. The law is relatively simple, every body art practitioner and facility must register yearly with their county’s health department, and must uphold a set of standards set forth by the law to protect themselves and their clients from risk of infection and exposure to infectious diseases. What does that mean for most tattoo shops and Lucky 7? For the most part, just a little extra paperwork for registration. In actuality, the real purpose of this law is not to go after legitimate tattoo shops, it is to come down on what are called “Scratchers”.

Scratchers are those “artists” who do not work out of a shop, but rather out of their own kitchens, garages, vehicles, and other venues that are not sanctioned for body art. They do not comply to acquiring a business license for body art practices and so their safety practices are not regulated. They bring in clients with lowball prices or offers of barter. In this economy, there will always be consumers looking to get the best deal, but the reason that these scratchers are able to offer such a bargain is because they cut corners with sterilization techniques and/or their tattoo skills are sub-par. Any reputable tattoo artist will be working in a shop, and if they are not, there is a reason behind that. What I ask consumers to do is question why these tattooists are not in a shop, and what is it that they are neglecting in order to make a profit for their tattoos. Most every tattoo shop has a shop minimum. We base that rate on how much it costs us in supplies and sterilization and then still giving the artist money for his time. Regardless of if you get one tiny dot, or a tattoo the size of a quarter, you are still going to pay the shop minimum because you get your own sterile set up with disposable barrier equipment that is only used on you. You get your own sterile bandage. You get your own sterile one time use needle which is disposed of in an approved sharps container and disposed of as biohazard medical waste. We provide you with proper aftercare to ensure that when you leave the shop you can properly take care of your tattoo. These costs accumulate, and we are not willing to risk our customers well-being and health  by overlooking these precautions to save a buck. When a scratcher offers you a tattoo for $40, he is doing the labor for free and dipping into his own pocket to pay the remaining cost of materials, or he is making a profit by neglecting very important exposure control and infectious prevention precautions. Not only is this hazardous, but now with the new law, it is also illegal to practice body art in this environment.

The upside to this law is now these back alley practitioners are subject to large fines and misdemeanor charges, and we welcome our registration fees and inspections now that the health department and local law enforcement have the authority to come down on these scratchers and regulate the industry to ensure that the health and welfare of our consumers and employees is the highest priority. We are talking about people’s bodies and permanent modifications to those bodies. Would you seek medical assistance from an unlicensed practitioner at their house to save some money? Would you queston why they are practicing out of their house instead of a sanctioned medical facility?
We will have to see how this new law plays out, and with that I remind you, Good tattoos aren’t cheap, and cheap tattoos aren’t good.