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German minister pushes for stricter rules in the tattoo industry

A German minister has called for Europe-wide regulations on the chemicals in tattoo inks and better hygienic standards. One tattoo shop owner has said there are more rules for sausage-sellers than for tattoo artists.

Tattoos in Germany and Europe should be safer and better regulated to ensure that "the dream of the tattoo does not become a nightmare," Consumer Affairs Minister Christian Schmidt said on Wednesday.

The minister launched a public awareness campaign called "Safer Tattoo" alongside members of Germany's Federal Tattoo Association (BVT) in Berlin.

"A sausage seller at a Christmas market has to comply with more rules than a tattoo artist," Daniel Krause, owner of "Classic Tattoo Berlin" and BVT member, said.

Schmidt is advocating for Europe-wide regulations on chemical substances in tattooing as well as improvements in hygiene.

He also called for tattoo practitioners to provide clients with reliable information to explain the possible risks to clients. Schmidt warned against getting "spontaneous tattoos" while on vacation, saying: "They are souvenirs which last for a lifetime and are unfortunately, not without their risks."

Certified ink

Both Schmidt and the BVT are calling for the introduction of professional certification for tattoo artists in Germany. Currently, tattoo artistry is not a state-recognized vocational career which means its practitioners are not required to undergo training.

Anyone in Germany can open up a tattoo parlor without having to prove their skills. Many either learn from older tattoo artists or teach themselves.

A professional certificate is "the most important building block in order to be taken seriously as a tattoo artist and to protect tattoo fans from hobby and living room tattooists," the BVT stated on its website.

The BVT also wants to develop national working and hygienic standards. They also want to require tattoo parlors to acquire a business license.

Over six million people in Germany have tattoos and almost 25 percent of people under 30 have one. Experts say the process of getting tattoos and the colors which are used can lead to infections and allergic reactions.

"Anyone who goes under another person's skin should know what he is doing," asserted Schmidt.

rs/kl (AFP, dpa, epd)

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