Health Officials Bust Vendors, Promoters at Edison E-Cigarette Convention


Vape Expo NJ 2015, drew roughly 1,200 vendors and electronic cigarette enthusiasts — as well as local and county health officials who fined the expo hall manager, the event promoters and nearly 70 sellers about $50,000 for violating the state’s indoor smoke-free air law.

Edison and Middlesex County health officials wrote 66 citations against vendors over the course of the weekend for allowing customers to vape inside the New Jersey Convention and Exposition Center. Health officials also issued 27 summonses each against expo hall owner and Vape Expo NJ 2015 promoters Andy Balogh and Don Miller…

Balogh announced Saturday night he intended to pay the fines for anyone who was cited for vaping indoors, according to a video posted on the Vape Expo NJ 2015 Facebook page.

In 2010, New Jersey was the first state in the country to ban “vaping” in public by expanding a law barring indoor smoking at restaurants, bars and other public places to include e-cigarettes. On Saturday, Balogh said he intended to challenge the fines, arguing health officials were mistakenly applying the law to what is a private building he had leased out for the three-day show. “The township signed off. They knew there would be” vaping, he said.

“We were assured this was a private trade show,” said Jay Elliot, director for the township Division of Health and Human Services. (But) “it was effectively open to the public” as long as patrons paid the $10 entry fee…

Joseph Cascio, the expo hall general manager, said he thought the promoters cleared everything with the township. When informed of the violations, he said he tried to do his part by handing out and posting flyers warning people not to vape indoors…

A thick fog of candy-smelling smoke hung in the air inside the cavernous hall filled with rows of tables and elaborate displays of nicotine “juice” and vaping paraphernalia such as “tanks” or atomizers that resemble ornate pens and hold larger amounts of liquid. There was a DJ stand, pole dancers and neon lights. As word spread late Saturday afternoon that health officials were issuing $250 fines for people who vaped indoors, some vendors and patrons started to pack up and leave…

“At my request, they shut the doors at 4 PM — it was scheduled until 8 PM…” Elliot said Sunday night.

E-cigarettes are battery-operated devices that deliver nicotine in the form of water vapor. They have been marketed as a healthier alternative to smoking tobacco cigarettes because they do not contain the carcinogens associated with burning tobacco. But the long-term effects are unknown. E-cigarette cartridges contain nicotine, making them just as addictive as tobacco products, as well as other chemicals not yet evaluated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

According to a May 2014 article in the medical journal, Circulation, e-liquids usually contain propylene glycol, (a chemical used to absorb extra water and maintain moisture in certain medicines, cosmetics, or food products) glycerin, nicotine and flavorings.

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