Tattoo & piercing shops in Washington D.C are unregulated, but this could easily change in the near future. On September 6, 2013, the city’s Health Department issued a 66 page package of draft regulations that would require all tattoo parlors to impose a mandatory 24 hour waiting period before the artist can actually tattoo the client.
Among other provisions, the draft includes mandatory hepatitis B vaccinations and biohazard training for all tattoo artists and body piercers, strict health code and sterilization regulations, and the banning of everything except ear piercings for minors (with the consent of a guardian). All of these proposed rules make sense, as they aim to prevent serious health risks, but many artists and enthusiasts are struggling to find the merit in a seemingly meaningless 24 hour wait period.
Not every tattoo artist in the country is booked for months in advance, and a lot of revenue generated by tattoo shops is through walk-in traffic, this proposed rule would virtually eliminate all walk in traffic and potentially lose the shop money.
If the bill is meant to prevent citizens from regretting something for the rest of their lives, then it’s going about it all wrong. Most people that walk into a shop expecting a tattoo on the same day indeed have spent time contemplating their decision and tattoo design, and if they haven’t they are well aware of the permanence of their decision. Anybody intoxicated is almost always turned away, but now everybody will have to wait. If the goal is to stop people from getting tattoos while inebriated, then what’s to stop that same person from drinking the next day?
On the surface, 24 hours does not seem too unreasonable, but impulse customers might be deterred by the idea of waiting and take their business to neighboring counties that aren’t as strict.
24 is an arbitrary number. Why not 48 hours or even a week? Why not impose a similar rule for barber shops and nail salons that often use toxic chemicals? How about waiting 24 hours before making any purchase greater than a few hundred dollars? The fact is that this will hurt local businesses more than it will help people make better decisions. Thankfully, the proposal will be going through their own 30 day waiting period before the city legislature attempts to pass it, which gives plenty of time for advocates and the opposition to state their case.