A NATIONWIDE ban on intimate piercings for under 18s in Wales has come into effect – the first of its kind in the UK.

From today, the new law makes it an offence for piercers to arrange and / or carry out a piercing on someone below that age on 10 body parts.

The ban covers specific “intimate” areas including: breast and tongue.

Chris ‘Big Redz’ Stephens, a body piercer at Risca’s Big Redz Body Piercing, cautiously welcomed the new legislation even though he felt the industry was not consulted.

“Legislation is not a bad thing, if the piercing and tattoo industries are consulted,” he said.

“If that happens, you tend to get laws which are helpful for the clients and sensitive to the industry.

“Unfortunately, that has not happened with this.

“People within the piercing industry are quite happy with legislation because it can only be a good thing if it protects.”

When considering the list, Mr Stephens, who has been training piercers for the past 10 years, was surprised by a number of the areas defined as intimate.

“Those parts of the body are rarely touched in piercing terms – there isn’t a specific one available,” he said, although he agreed some of the areas listed had specific piercings.

“The thing is that those areas have always been genital piercings, so ethical piercers have never pierced there on someone under 18.

“The only one which is peculiar is the tongue.

“Sadly there’s no background information as to why that’s been included and why that is classed as intimate.

You could argue it is internal, but there are other mouth piercings that you can have which aren’t included – lips, frenulum for example.

“I can only assume that is a safety issue.”

The aim of the new law is to protect children and young people from the potential health risks which can be caused by an intimate piercing, and the change will come under the Public Health (Wales) Act 2017.

The Act also insists that anyone carrying out tattooing, piercing, acupuncture or electrolysis is licensed.

Dr Frank Atherton, the chief medical officer for Wales, said: “In line with the Public Health (Wales) Act 2017, this new law is in place to ensure we can protect children and young people’s health and wellbeing.

“The child protection issues that could also arise from this scenario highlight even further, the importance of implementing such a law.

“I hope this piece of legislation will help to reduce these issues, and that practitioners understand the importance of obtaining proof of age beforehand.”

Dr Colette Bridgman, the chief dental officer for Wales, said: “Tongue piercing can lead to lasting damage to teeth and gums, and can cause serious swelling in the mouth that can affect breathing.

“Many dentists in Wales have seen patients who have permanent harm following piercing and dental teams in Wales really welcome this new law.”

A study in England found that among individuals aged between 16 and 24, complications were reported with around a third of all body piercings.