On Friday, Walmart, the world’s largest retailer, announced that it will stop selling e-cigarettes from all of its stores due to the ongoing vaping epidemic.
So far, nearly 530 people have been reported of having severe respiratory disease related to vaping, with eight deaths, driving government agencies to take strict action.
In a statement, Walmart told CBS News, “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 retailer said it would end the sales of e-cigarettes after selling out the remaining stock.
Earlier this month, President Trump said his administration could consider banning non-tobacco flavored e-cigarettes in an effort to keep children away from vaping products.
According to National Youth Tobacco Survey, more than 28 percent of youth said they had recently used flavored e-cigarettes.
Mathew Myers, the president of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids said, “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. We urge them to make this policy permanent and to go further by ending sales of all tobacco products, including cigarettes.”
Some vaping advocates said that the concerns about the risks of using e-cigarettes have been overblown, while sellers are marketing them as safer than conventional cigarettes.
On Friday, the American Vaping Association (AVA) slammed Walmart for planning to stop selling e-cigarettes while continuing to selling tobacco products.
Gregory Conley, the president of AVA, said, “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.”
Earlier this year, Walmart increased the tobacco buying age to 21 years in the wake of the ongoing teen vaping epidemic. According to a federal survey, over one-quarter of high school students said they use vaping products.
Meanwhile, lawmakers have blamed Juul, the largest e-cig company, for the surge in youth use of vaping products.