Wales politics

Call for under-18 tongue and intimate piercings ban

Young girl with piercing
Image caption Tongue piercing in Wales would be banned for under 16 year olds under the Public Health Bill

A proposed ban on intimate piercings should be extended to all under-18s, a group of AMs has said.

The Public Health Bill, if passed, will ban children under the age of 16 from having piercings of the tongue and genitalia.

But the health committee thinks the age of consent should be higher, expressing "serious concerns" about the medical implications of piercing young people.

The Welsh Government said it would consider the AMs' recommendations.

In a report the committee also recommended that ministers:

  • Use powers to ban drinks with added sugar from schools, and take other measures to tackle obesity
  • Tighten rules in the bill on smoking at school gates and sports facilities
  • Develop a national map and mobile app for public toilets
  • Undertake "urgent work" to understand the risk body modification procedures pose to public health
Image caption Dai Lloyd said AMs were not convinced by reasons for intimate piercing consent at 16

Dai Lloyd, chairman of the committee and a Plaid Cymru AM, said: "The committee agrees with almost all of the provisions within the Public Health (Wales) Bill, but we are absolutely convinced that the age of consent for intimate piercings should be 18 years old."

He said that "given the weight of evidence from medical and environmental health professionals regarding the significant harm an intimate piercing can do to a still developing body" AMs were not convinced by public health minister Rebecca Evans's rationale for choosing the age of 16.

"We welcome her commitment to consider this matter further," Mr Lloyd said.

He added that the committee was "extremely concerned that the list of offences excluding people from gaining a licence for special procedures, including intimate piercings, does not currently include sexual offences."

The committee wanted such a restriction to be added to the bill.

The Public Health Bill has returned to the assembly after it failed to be passed by AMs in 2016.

Plaid Cymru AMs had blocked its passage over the controversial e-cigarette restrictions, following controversial comments by former government minister Leighton Andrews that suggested a deal with the party was a "cheap date".

The e-cigarette provision has now been removed, but ministers have kept proposals on public toilets, tattoo licensing and a ban on smoking in school playgrounds, among other measures.

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