The New Jersey Convention and Exposition Center was the home for the much anticipated Vape Expo NJ on the weekend of July 17-19, 2015. Vaping enthusiasts and vendors alike filled the auditorium to record numbers, and by Saturday morning things got more than a little ugly. By 4 pm on Sunday, the expo was shut down 4-hours earlier than advertised while some 70 different sellers and promoters were issued over $50,000 in fines.
Over 1,200 people attended Vape Expo NJ with an event schedule that included countless cloud chasing contests and e-juice taste-testing venues. By Friday night, the mist of e-juice vapor hung thick and heavy. Meanwhile, the massive amount of fog apparently drew considerable ”heat” from the Division of Health and Human Services. Area director Jay Elliot wrote at least 66 citations to visitors and issued another 27 summonses to the Vape Expo NJ promoters, Don Miller and Andy Balogh. The reason: failure to comply with New Jersey’s “No smoking in public places” ordinances.
(Courtesy of Vape Expo NJ)
But the Expo was billed as a private event. Yes, anyone could attend, but they had to pay a $10 entrance fee at the door. To put this another way, Mom and Pop could not accidentally walk in off the street without knowing exactly what they were walking into. Vendors also had to pay a $25 fee and sign a document stating that they were joining a private “club.” But this didn’t stop the onslaught of fines and controversy that ultimately plagued the event, forcing the festivities to come to a halt earlier than expected.
As early as Saturday morning, Balogh and Miller knew that they were in trouble. Elliot and his band of not-so-merry-men were already trying to put the kibosh on the expo but good! However, the expo was already drawing huge crowds of vapers from all over the northeast, diehard enthusiasts who might become very angry if the event was unexpectedly called off. So Balogh and Miller crossed their fingers and hoped for the best.
It didn’t work. The Division of Health and Human Services was pissed. But as a compromise, Elliot and his crew of government lackeys allowed vaping to be conducted in an outdoor pavilion adjacent to the convention center. A message was posted on the Vape Expo NJ website to warn the public, but it was too late.
“The Edison board of health has forced vaping to be done Saturday and Sunday in an adjacent enclosed pavillion off the show floor. Please keep all vaping in that pavillion. This event is not open to non-vapers.
Thank you, VENJ Staff”
Vapers by the hundreds were on their way, planning to vape and cloud chase their little hearts out until Sunday night. After all, the name of the event was Vape Expo NJ. What did government officials expect to happen when their convention permit was originally granted?
At one point, Miller and Balogh posted a video on their Facebook page, offering to pay the fines of anyone involved. At the time of this writing, the video has been deleted. This may be due to the original numbers of citations issued being largely underestimated. But the Boys from New Jersey are planning to challenge the fines in a court of law. Keep crossing those fingers, guys!