TALLINN - The social affairs committee of the Riigikogu has forwarded to the plenary the draft of the new Public Health Act, which, among other things, makes it illegal for tattoo parlors in Estonia to provide services to minors.
The chair of the social affairs committee, Siret Kotka, said that the bill that has been thoroughly prepared for almost ten years will replace the current Public Health Act. The bill provides for a comprehensive system of public health measures and updates the roles and tasks of the different agencies in the organization of public health, the Center Party MP explained.
The bill deals with a wide range of factors affecting health, ranging, for example, from vibration and noise to school meals. In the course of the drafting of the bill it became clear that not all the current rules fulfil their purpose in their current form. For example, it is currently stipulated that the selection of food offered in schools must facilitate a healthy diet, but despite that sweets and sodas are offered for sale in schools, which in no way encourages a varied diet.
Therefore, it was decided to offer with the draft legislation a solution to this problem as well, as in the future the school principal will set requirements and restrictions for food offered for sale in the school in accordance with the national guidelines. Above all, food must be age-appropriate, regular, and appropriate to the health of the person for whom it is intended, the MP said.
Kotka added that although health is a personal matter of each individual, it must also be approached taking into account the interests of the state, and the economic wellbeing of all of us depends largely on the working population.
Helmen Kutt, vice chair of the social affairs committee, described the changes as essential to better protect people's health and create the conditions for an increase in life expectancy and to prevent and reduce undesirable health effects and inequalities.
"There are issues that are not regulated by the current law -- for example, harm reduction services related to drug addiction cannot currently be considered as health services and there is no clear legal basis for the funding of these services now. The new law will provide a clearer basis for the development and provision of harm reduction services," Kutt said.
The Social Democrat MP said it's very important that the bill more clearly sets out the tasks of municipalities, which were generally worded in the past and, as a result, the content and quality of activities varied significantly in different regions of Estonia.
"It is certainly a good thing that a comprehensive text of the Public Health Act is being introduced, rather than yet another amendment to an act to amend the act," Kutt added.
According to the bill, the provision of solarium and tattoo services to persons under 18 years of age will also be prohibited and the requirements applicable to other beauty and personal services will be updated. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), ultraviolet-emitting tanning devices are among Group 1 of carcinogens, which means that their association with cancer has been scientifically proven.
Tattooing also poses a number of health risks due to the dyes used in the process.
The bill was presented to MPs by Minister of Health and Labor Tanel Kiik.
The committee decided to put the bill before the plenary for the first reading on Jan. 12.