The anger of tattoo artists at new EU rules is more than skin deep

BRUSSELS, (AP) -- After Wednesday's introduction of EU rules banning thousands upon thousands of chemicals from tattoo ink, tattoo parlors fear that their art will be less vibrant. The 27-nation bloc says that stricter regulations on ink elements that could cause allergies or cancer will benefit the public's health.

The anger of tattoo artists at new EU rules is more than skin deep

There have been a lot of accusations and complaints about the impasse between regulation and freedom to express artistic ideas.

Tycho Veldhoen, a Dutch painter who has been in Amsterdam for 25 years, fears that certain colors will have an "enormous effect" on his work. "Because, just like a painter you suddenly lose a huge part of your palette with no other options."

He warned that the situation could get worse next year, as more inks could be banned. Since COVID-19, tattoo shops across the 27-nation bloc were subject to restrictions and lockdowns for two years. They now claim that a completely avoidable crisis is affecting them even more.

Veldhoen stated, "It's all quite sudden." "There should have been more preparation."

The EU claims that this is not the case. While the EU claims that the consultation process started in 2016, the official regulation that triggered Wednesday's restrictions began on Dec. 14, 2020, the official regulation is from the EU.

This isn't a new concept or surprise. Eric Mamer, a spokesperson for the EU, said that it is a generalization of practice that is already in place in many member states." National restrictions were already in place for seven EU countries.

Although the Commission states that there are alternatives to banned products, tattoo parlors claim they are too slow to get from the manufacturers to their shops.

According to EU figures, at least 12 per cent of Europeans have tattoos. This is in addition to the double number that has been recorded for those aged 18-35. Therefore, it was necessary that strict guidelines be established regarding health.

ECHA, the EU's chemical agency, says that allergies and inflammatory reactions to skin chemicals are expected to decline due to the restriction. It also warns that there could be more serious side effects like cancer, DNA damage or reproductive problems that could be caused by inks.

Michl Dirks is the man behind the "Save the Pigments” petition that has already gathered 176,000 signatures in the EU. He objects to the conditional language and insists the ban does not have enough science backing it, something the EU disagrees with.

Co-organizer of this petition Erich Maehnert said that such bans will unduly harm the industry because people will use illegal means to obtain the products from other countries.

He said that tattoo artists continue to get their products without being checked or traced. Others claim that the small tattoo industry can be easily targeted, while the tobacco or alcohol industries hold more power.

The petition couple is already gearing up for the next battle. The grace period for the pigments Blue 15 & Green 7 is still available until next year, as no other options are available.

Veldhoen stated that it leaves him with few options when a customer walks into his Amsterdam shop. He said that a rose with brown leaves was less appealing than one with green leaves.

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