TOUR   Info Index HOME  2001UnimaxNYC

1) Intro
Hi, I am Westley Wood Owner and founder of Unimax Supply Co in New York City, registered as a business in 1989, incorporated in 1996. I also own and operate Sacred Tattoo Studio in New York, established in 1990 and Bowery Tattoo Established in the year 2000 closed in 2005. 
During New York City legalization in 1996 and 1997 I was voted to represent the Tattoo artists of the 5 boros on all three consecutive committee terms working with the city council and  DOH and DEP and made presentations to them all. I was appointed by the City of New York as the Official representative of the Department of Health to assure the health and safety of the First NYC Tattoo Convention in 1997 would conform to tattoo regulations and health codes. Asked by Steve Bonge to co-sponsored the First NYC Tattoo Convention in 1997 with Steve Bonge, Butch Garcia and General manager Clayton Paterson.

In New York City it wasn't the Department of Health that wrote the legislative regulations overturning the Health Department ban on tattooing, but the City Council legislatively forcing the DOH to allow tattooing.  The Acting Commissioner of Health, Dr Benjamin Mojica was opposed to legalizing tattooing and piercing because he said it was a waste of taxpayer money. He testified that using rubber gloves, new needles and following universal precautions was sufficient and shown to protect the health of the community. In his testimony he said that after following NYC tattoo for 40 years, no health problems had emerged. Life experience within the body art world confirms that there is no health problem. He said regulations having to do with the premises and inspections would have no effect on infection rates and therefore no justification.

Having been in the business more than 20 years [at that time], seeing thousands of clients, being a supplier in touch daily with 100s of tattoo artists and shops and studios life experience has taught us that there is no health problem.  Once in a while we see a local easily treated skin infection and we advise them to dose it with alcohol and get to a health care provider. There is no morbidity and no mortality and no drain on the health care system because of tattooing.

The Institute of Medicine wrote book after book in the 90s promoting "evidence-based" public health policy. The year 2000 was the goal to have turned the nation around.

The year 2000 came and went and  while some hospitals and some areas began looking into quality control and evidence-based public health policy others have struggled devoting the time and resources to apply those lofty goals. There has been a de-emphasis recently on following a strict evidence-based approach.

According to Dever, author of Public Health, as well as other textbooks the first step in setting Public Health Care Policy is the Assessment step:  making a community study to identify a health problem and then to set priorities and create a strategy to lower or eliminate those problems.

Having read through the transcripts of the actual meetings of Suffolk County Health Department relative to this issue you can see there is no assessment step - no community study  - to find out what the problems are only internet surfing.  For example, the so-called "study" from Pace University was quoted twice by two different people as "evidence" of prevalence and cost to the community but it wasn't a study at all, it wasn't even a survey, it was an extremely ambiguous, vaguely understood questionnaire given to students asking them if they thought they ever had a bleeding, or an injury, or an infection. The authors didn't even make a claim of it being a study. 

The conclusion of the "study" (let me quote it):  "... these morbid events comprise a considerable demand on and cost to the health care system." (no evidence available to support the claim)- there was not a single question asked if any student sought health care at all or were the probelms self-resolving issues.

The conclusion was "made up", invented, fabricated, i.e, a lie. The references comprised, A) Searches of other reviews of other studies;
B) A study of women in a Brunai hospital on the Island of Borneo,  -- A "study of other countries prevalence of HIV in which the causes of HIV in that study were listed as 41% from tattooing, 17% from drug use and 23% from drinking 3 packs of beer per month. (For real!) --
C) Another "study" done in 1989 which compared tattooed men in Taiwan from 1989 (where a Tattoo was a sign of a  criminal in 1989) in which rural folk medicine is the norm in which health care providers don't have the resources for western style sterilization and disinfection. Areas of the world that have normally high levels of viral infections.

Comments at the time for the proposed Suffolk County regulations.