Health board may tighten tattoo rules

The city health board may be looking at strengthening tattoo regulations, with a proposal expected for review at the next meeting at 10 a.m. June 25.

Scott Guappone, who serves as manager of State Street Tattoo in Salem and also serves as the tattoo establishment representative to the health department’s District Licensing Council, approached board members Wednesday about making changes locally, over and above what’s in the Ohio Revised Code.

“We feel we can make it a little bit stricter,” he said.

Guappone’s idea was to require individual licensing for tattoo artists in addition to the licensing required for a tattoo shop. Currently, all that’s required is a shop license, meaning there’s no requirement for proof of apprenticeship for tattoo artists working in the shop or any certifications for the individual artists.

He said this would be a way to stop people who have no idea what they’re doing and protect the public by ensuring that when they go to a licensed shop, they’re also getting a licensed tattoo artist who has met what’s required for certification.

Board member Judy Sicilia questioned Guappone about the type of training that should be required and he responded that an apprenticeship certificate and contact with the person who did the teaching, which would usually be an established tattoo artist. He said an apprenticeship should be at least a year or two of both watching and doing.

He said Salem’s regulations could become a model for the rest of the state, with city Health Commissioner Richard Setty noting that Mahoning County’s regulations and some other local regulations were used as a template when the state set up tattoo regulations.

He asked Guappone to work with city registered sanitarian Bill Hayward to look at what’s in the adminitrative code to make sure they’re not duplicating anything already in the regulations. Hayward said he’s already been talking with Mahoning County about their rules and noted the state regulations were just updated.

Mayor John Berlin, who serves as chairman of the health board by virtue of his position, thanked Guappone for bringing the idea to the board and asked that he and Hayward work on something for the next meeting.