Walmart on Friday announced it will stop selling e-cigarettes in all of its stores, with the nation’s largest retailer citing the growing public concerns about vaping.
Eight deaths have been, and another 530 people have been sickened, drawing scrutiny from government regulators.
“Given the growing federal, state and local regulatory complexity and uncertainty regarding e-cigarettes, we plan to discontinue the sale of electronic nicotine delivery products at all Walmart and Sam’s Club U.S. locations,” Walmart said in a statement to CBS News.
The company said it would exit the market after selling its remaining inventory of e-cigarettes.
The Trump administration has said it will ban most flavored e-cigarettes in an effort to curb their use by young people. More than 3.6 million kids in the U.S and 1 in 5 high school students use e-cigarettes, according to the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. Ninety-seven percent of youth vapers use flavored varieties.
“Walmart has taken a responsible step given the worsening youth e-cigarette epidemic and the growing number of severe lung disease cases associated with e-cigarette use,” Matthew Myers, president of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, said in a statement. “We urge them to make this policy permanent and to go further by ending sales of all tobacco products, including cigarettes.”
Sellers of e-cigarettes market them as safer than traditional cigarettes, and some vaping advocates say concerns about the risks are overblown. The American Vaping Association on Friday slammed Walmart for halting sales of e-cigs while continuing to stock combustible tobacco products.
“You know you are in the middle of a moral panic when big corporations like Walmart find it easier to sell deadly combustible tobacco products than to sell harm-reduction alternatives,” the group’s president, Gregory Conley, said in a statement.