For more than 40 years, Oklahomans who choose to have their bodies permanently tattooed have had to travel out of state to get it done legally. The tattoo parlors that are preparing to open on Main Street in Norman and elsewhere in Oklahoma are tangible signs that a change is in the works.

The Oklahoma state House and Senate recently passed legislation legalizing tattoo parlors, many of which had operated underground for years.

They will be regulated and will have to operate with rules designed to protect their customers and employees from diseases.

The legislation is long overdue. Oklahoma is the only state with the distinction of banning the practice of tattooing. Attempts to lift the ban in past years were opposed on moral, health and safety grounds. Ironically, much of the support now comes from those who are worried that the industry, if left unregulated and underground, will cause more harm to the public health.

Oklahoma tattoo artists have taken up the health crusade for several years. Many have worked with the state’s health department to come up with a series of health, safety and sanitation guidelines that they can live with.

We’ve supported previous attempts to remove the decades-old ban. The bill ... seems to carry sufficient health and safety regulations that will keep the public protected in ways that they do not currently enjoy.

Norman Transcript