Tattoo parlors face cost hurdles to comply with new Florida statutes

By on February 4th, 2013

Florida’s tattoo parlors became a state-regulated industry a year ago. As of Jan. 1, 2013, these parlors are subject to administrative penalties.

So far all parlors are complying with these regulations.

The requirements standardized tattoo parlors and artists. Parlors must fill out an application form, pay a $200 fee to the local county health department and pass a health department inspection. Artists must fill out an application, be at least 18 years old, pay a $60 fee and complete an industry-specific class on blood-borne pathogens and communicable diseases, according to the statutes.

The Florida Professional Tattoo Artist Guild and other industry representatives worked with the Florida Department of Health to craft the statutes, said Gina Vallone-Hood, a representative for the Florida Department of Health.

The goal was to gear the new requirements around how artists already practice tattooing, she said. The licensing was spearheaded by the tattoo industry.

To date, the state has issued nearly 1,293 tattoo parlor licenses and 2,627 tattoo artist licenses, she said.

Vallone-Hood said, the parlors were previously required to have an annual checkup with an osteopathic doctor that was not standardized. Now, the inspections are performed by local health county departments.

“We did not have any issues here locally getting all the facilities licensed,” said Anthony Dennis, environmental health director with the Alachua County Health Department.

His office is responsible for inspecting 11 parlors in Alachua and nine in Columbia, Dixie, Levy, Putnam and Suwanee counties. If parlors open in Gilchrist, Hamilton or Lafayette counties, they would be his responsibility as well.

One parlor had several boxes of unsterilized needles from China. The had plenty of properly sterilized needles on hand and Dennis was able to mark the problem as “corrected at time of inspection” as soon as the artists threw away the unsterilized needles, he said.

When inspecting a tattoo parlor, Dennis inspects four basic components: the premises, sanitization and sterilization, tattooing and records. For sanitizing and tattooing, the artists must go through a mock procedure of preparing and inking skin, he said.

Wayne Lessard, president of Gainesville’s tattoo parlor BODYTECH Tattoo and Piercing, is skeptical of the new regulations preventing undesirable parlors from opening. He looks at the legislation and sees paperwork and fees, he said.

From the $200 parlor licensing fee, $180 goes to the Alachua County Health Department to cover the cost of licensure and inspections. The remaining $20 goes to the Department of Health in Tallahassee.

“I don’t know how it has changed industry except that it has cost us more money,” Lessard said.

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