State slaps expo organizers with big fine for allowing unlicensed tattoo artists to work

State slaps expo organizers with big fine for allowing unlicensed tattoo artists to work

HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - The state has fined Honolulu Tattoo Expo $120,000 for allowing 12 unlicensed tattoo artists to ink clients at an event in January.

Health officials say organizers of the Honolulu Tattoo Expo blatantly disregarded state law and put profits above public health, which is why they were given the maximum fine.

The event on Jan. 24 and 25 was held at the Hawaii Convention Center.

“This is a really egregious penalty. This is probably as serious as it gets when you’re tattooing people in the state of Hawaii,” said Peter Oshiro, Food Safety Branch program manager.

“When you’re tattooing people, you’re intentionally drawing blood out of people. The operators must be well versed in how to prevent blood borne pathogen disease."

Tom Hernandez, of Honolulu Tattoo Expo, said he was shocked by the fine and plans to contest it.

“The inspectors were very nonchalant about the artists. I asked what the fine was for these violations and the inspector said the first citation is just a warning,” he said.

He added some tattoo artists from the mainland thought they were licensed, but found out later they didn’t submit their paperwork to the Health Department in time for the expo.

He says those who were written up immediately stopped working and left the event.

The Honolulu Tattoo Expo is not affiliated with the Pacific Ink and Art Expo.

This story will be updated.

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