Walmart will no longer sell e-cigarettes, the company announced Friday amid a growing number of vaping-related deaths and illnesses.
“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,” the company said in a statement provided to Digital Trends. “We will complete our exit after selling through current inventory.”
Walmart is the country’s largest retailer, which means that it’s likely others could follow its example in the coming days. We asked Walmart approximately when they expected to stop stocking vape products and if this action extended to e-cigarette accessories as well, but a spokeswoman declined to comment.
Eight people have died from a lung disease related to vaping so far, according to health officials. The most recent person died on Thursday in Missouri. At the same time, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said that there were at least 530 cases of lung injuries related to e-cigarette use in the United States as of September 11. The CDC has opened a criminal probe into the illnesses and deaths, focused on the supply chain for vaping products.
President Donald Trump said last week that his administration would move to ban flavored e-cigarettes in an attempt to reduce the number of children smoking e-cigarettes. According to U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, 5 million children in the United States use e-cigarettes.
At the same time, several municipalities and states have moved to ban vaping products, including San Francisco, which banned the sale of e-cigarettes altogether, as well as Michigan and New York, which banned flavored vaping products. Other states have also been considering vaping bans, though a national ban could make it a moot point.
The bans have the vaping community terrified that their favorite products may soon be gone for good.
“For lack of better terms and the most polite way to say it, we’re screwed,” Jai Gyorfi, who runs a vape shop in New Jersey and a popular vaping YouTube channel, told Digital Trends in response to Trump’s proposed ban. “This is bad.”