NEW YORK — Walmart said Friday that it will stop selling electronic cigarettes at its namesake stores and Sam’s Clubs following a string of mysterious illnesses and deaths related to vaping.
The nation’s largest retailer, based in Bentonville, Arkansas, said that it will complete its exit from e-cigarettes after selling through its current inventory.
The move is due to “growing federal, state and local regulatory complexity” regarding vaping products, the company said in a statement.
Some metro vape retailers say Walmart shouldn’t be so quick to pull the plug on the products.
“I think they should do more research because I think it’s the cartridges from the black market instead of the nicotine itself,” said Hashim Shahid, manager of Main Smoke Shop. “I think it’s just the kids buying it from not real people, not licensed companies and just off the street.
President Donald Trump has proposed a federal ban on flavored e-cigarettes and vaping products.
Michigan banned the sale of flavored e-cigarettes this week. A few local governments, including San Francisco, have passed bans on flavored tobacco.
E-cigarettes represent a very small part of Walmart’s nicotine business, which also includes traditional cigarettes, smokeless tobacco and nicotine gum. But the vaping industry has come under increased scrutiny after the deaths and illnesses — along with a surge in underage e-cigarette use.
More than 500 people have been diagnosed with breathing illnesses after using e-cigarettes and other vaping devices, according to U.S. health officials. An eighth death was reported this week. But health officials still have not identified the cause.
In July, Walmart raised the minimum age to purchase tobacco products, including all e-cigarettes, to 21. It also said then that it was in the process of discontinuing the sale of fruit- and dessert-flavored electronic nicotine delivery systems.
Here’s the statement that was given to FOX4:
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. We will complete our exit after selling through current inventory.