Black mark for youth tattooing on the cards

THERE are more laws in Tasmania regarding the branding of animals than there are on tattoos for people.

But that's set to change, with the government planning to introduce laws to ban youth tattooing after Labor's bill failed to pass Parliament before the last election.

Tasmania is the only jurisdiction, outside the Northern Territory, to allow people under 18 to be tattooed.

According to the former government, the tattooing of young people was decriminalised in 2001 but it was common in the industry for youths to be turned away from ink studios.

And under the new laws, it won't just be tattoos that are on the way out.

Police Minister Rene Hidding this week said the government would introduce changes to the Police Offences Act to regulate tattooing and other forms of body modification on those under 18.

"The legislation would make it illegal to tattoo, body-brand, or stretch the earlobes of minors," he said. Mr Hidding did not say whether genital piercing would be regulated, as was the case with Labor's amendments.

Former police minister David O'Byrne introduced a bill last November which outlawed intimate body piercings and piercings on any other part of the body without parental consent for a person under 16.

However, Parliament was dissolved before it could pass the Legislative Council.

Tattoo artists spoken to by The Examiner were supportive of the measure to ban youth tattooing. Launceston Tattoos owner Andy Lawrence said he already refused to tattoo school students.

"We get a lot of parents who argue with us over that ... they want us to tattoo their daughter or something which is a bit crazy,' he said.

Another tattoo artist, who asked to remain anonymous, said he wouldn't tattoo young people if their body wasn't fully developed. "Kids have no idea what they want, anyway, they're too young," he said.

The Health Department's Guidelines for Tattooing, issued in 1998, don't reflect that tattooing minors was decriminalised in 2001.

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