After receiving 600 public comments, health cabinet removes proposal to ban tattoos on scarred skin in updated regulation

WFPL photo

By Melissa Patrick
Kentucky Health News

The state Cabinet for Health and Family Services has updated its requirements for tattoo studios in Kentucky, and they no longer prohibit tattoos on scarred skin, as first proposed.

The cabinet said in a news release it had received more than 600 public comments on this proposal. In addition, WHAS-TV reportedthat almost 100 people from all over the state attended a public hearing about the issue May 28 in Frankfort.

“Based on comments received, we elected to remove the language relating to scar tissue,” Dr. Jeff Howard, commissioner of the state health department, said in the release.

Opponents of the proposal have said there is no medical reason to ban such tattoos. Others have said such a ban is a violation of their civil rights, and there are already industry rules around this issue. Still others pointed out the many reasons people want to cover their scars, including cancer survivors who want to cover their mastectomy scars.

The state announced the original amendment to the regulation in April, which simply said “tattooing over scarred skin is prohibited.” The proposal did not give any reason for adding this language; when asked about it, a cabinet spokesman said only that the proposal was made in an effort to update a regulation that hadn’t been updated in 15 years.

In May, the health commissioner issued another release, saying the proposal to ban tattooing on scarred skin in the regulation “had some unintended consequences” and that the language regarding this issue would be addressed once the public comment period ended on May 31.

On Tuesday, July 16, the cabinet announced that the ban had been removed, citing a “a lack of available evidence to support this prohibition.” It said the intent of the first revision was to prohibit the tattooing of freshly scarred skin, but “freshly” was left out.

Under the new rule, which next goes before the Administrative Regulation Review subcommittee, a person registering as a tattoo artist will have to complete training about blood-borne pathogens. The rules also outline a registration process for tattoo studios and increased fees to offset inspection cost.

The regulation also updates requirements for disinfecting and sterilizing equipment and adds a new rule to require a notarized statement of parental consent for a minor who is seeking a tattoo without a parent or legal guardian present.

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