A new law that takes effect in California January 1 imposes higher professional standards for massage therapists.
The law establishes the California Massage Therapy Council to oversee certification of massage therapists.
To be certified, applicants must complete a minimum 500 hours of instruction, complete an assessment exam and pass a background check with fingerprinting.
The new law prohibits certified massage professionals from posting sexual-type advertisements, wearing suggestive clothing or engaging in sexual activity.
Marsha Selzer, a San Diego-based massage therapist, doesn't think the new law will have much effect on illicit massage operations.
“There's so many of those places, and they come up faster and faster,” said Selzer, referring to massage businesses that often provide more than therapeutic massage services. “I don't know how they're going to control it."
Selzer, whose clients include professional athletes, said the new law is a "great idea" but lacks enforcement provisions.
"If they do find ways to enforce it, that will definitely help,” said Selzer. “As a therapeutic massage therapist, I wish they would call it something else and get it away from the word 'massage' or from the massage industry."
The new law does authorize cities or counties to adopt or enforce ordinances regarding zoning or business licensing of massage businesses.