NYC tattoo artists are speaking out against a new bill passed by Governor Cuomo. The bill is set to go into effect on December 12th, and would require tattoo studios and body piercing studios to use single-use ink and single-use needles which come in sealed, sterile packages. It is the single-use ink that tattoo artists are taking issue with.
This means the usual disposable ink caps will be replaced with prepackaged "ink shots," according to an online petition, which explains that the single use inks are costly, unnecessary, and of a lower quality. The artists behind the petition are requesting the wording of the bill be changed to allow inks from larger bottles "to be poured into single use disposable receptacles, aka ink caps."
The standard procedure by any properly trained tattoo artist involves purchasing large bottles of inks, and pouring them into small plastic, single use, disposable ink caps, just enough for the procedure, which are thrown away during clean up. The original large bottle is to be stored away from the client and the work station, and therefore away from any possibility of contamination.
For many artists, switching to a poor-quality ink, is just not an option. For permanent makeup pigments (which is very much tattooing as well) there are no brands packaged for single use. These “ink shots” as they are called, are impractical and unnecessary, since standard precautions are designed to eliminate the possibility of cross-contamination.
When the contested bill was passed, Gov. Cuomo explained: “Reusing tattooing or piercing needles poses potentially serious and life threatening health risks. This new law is an important step toward preventing the spread of infectious diseases and in holding accountable those who don’t take the proper precautions.”
Senator David Carlucci added that prior to this bill, there had been "no rules or regulations requiring a tattooist or body piercing specialist to be held accountable for the materials used through reused needles and ink," noting that "Hepatitis C is a very serious, deadly disease."
In 1961, New York City banned tattoos, making them illegal to get until 1997—"Pointing to a non-existent link between tattooing and a minor outbreak of Hepatitis B, city health officials went on the attack."
Earlier this year, a study revealed that around 10% of New Yorkers experienced complications after getting tattoos, typically a rash, though this seemed to be connected with certain ink colors, and not cross-contamination.