Not 18? No tattoo for you in MinnesotaDULUTH - Fifteen-year-old Raheem Vann got a tattoo Wednesday, just in the nick of time.
By: Candace Renalls, Duluth News Tribune, Worthington Daily Globe
DULUTH - Fifteen-year-old Raheem Vann got a tattoo Wednesday, just in the nick of time.
Today it would be illegal.
A tattoo ban for those younger than 18 is part of a new Minnesota state law that goes into effect today.
“Once we learned the law was changing, we thought we’d better get in,” said Raheem’s mother, Mary Cheney of Superior, who wanted to make sure her son got the $100 tattoo in a safe, controlled environment.
Inking minors was already prohibited in Wisconsin. So Raheem and his mother came to Duluth where it still was legal with parents’ permission.
Raheem had his last name tattooed on his right forearm at Superior Street Tattoo Co. in Lincoln Park. Two weeks ago, he got his first tattoo on his other forearm — a cancer survivor ribbon flanked with “For Mom and God” — for his 15th birthday. His mother is a cancer survivor.
“If ever I think of doing something stupid, I can look down and see Mom,” Raheem said as tattoo artist Jesse Wiitala worked on his second tattoo, which will remind him to be true to himself.
The tattoo ban on minors is part of a state bill that was in the works for several years to regulate the tattoo industry in Minnesota for the first time.
“To me it was just absurd that people were actually puncturing people’s skin, going into the blood system, and there were no regulations,” said Sen. Yvonne Prettner Solon, DFL-Duluth, the bill’s co-sponsor. “It’s like minor surgery. They could be passing hepatitis or HIV, any number of diseases. And we’re just letting it happen and no regulations.”
The law requires tattoo artists and establishments to be licensed Jan. 1. Two-year licenses will cost $1,000 for parlors and $100 for technicians. It sets health and safety standards, including required training and experience, proper handling of equipment, single-use needles, sterilization requirements and proper waste disposal.
But the bill’s provision banning those younger than 18 from getting a tattoo wasn’t Prettner Solon’s idea. Nor does she support it.
“If parents are willing to give permission and be present at the time of tattooing, let them do so,” she said. “It seemed to me that parents and children need to run their own lives.”
Co-sponsor Rep. Julie Bunn, DFL-Lake Elmo, had insisted on the inclusion, though some piercing of minors will still be allowed with parental permission. The argument is that tattoos are more permanent, and minors aren’t mature enough to make those choices.
“I can completely understand it,” Cheney said. “I’ve seen some tattoos some want. You know they would end up regretting it.”
As for her son, she said, “We agreed it couldn’t be something fad, that it had to be something meaningful.”
The ban was added to get the needed consensus for passage, Prettner Solon said. She went along with it because she was more concerned about the impact the unregulated tattoo industry was having on blood banks. Those who get tattoos in regulated shops would not have to wait a year before donating blood to ensure no infections were present.
Tattoo artists at Anchor’s End Tattoo & Body Piercing in Duluth started the push to set local, then state standards several years ago.
“I was seeing poor practices,” shop owner Joseph John said. “I was alarmed that there were no standards.”
Those practices included reuse of equipment, failure to learn about the dangers of disease transmission and poor quality of work, he said.
Not all tattoo artists and shop owners support the new regulations, which could close shops.
“The state is hard enough on small business without charging us extra fees,” said John “Bones” Kaufhold, owner of Bones Specialty Tattoo in West Duluth. “I go by the rules. I use universal precautions. I like to think we run a very good shop, but greater regulation irritates me.”
Kaufhold says the industry’s self-policing was working.
“Shops that stay open are doing what they’re supposed to,” Kaufhold said. “You got to take care of business the right way. You have to have a nice shop that people come back to.”
The new law will require changes at his shop, including adding sinks and partitioning off areas for clients who prefer privacy.
“Certain tattoo shops won’t be able to provide the service anymore,” John said. “If they can’t provide it, that’s one less tattoo shop. If they can, all the better. There will be 50 to 60 more people who will be safe.”