American retail company Walmart said it will stop putting up electronic cigarettes for sale at its namesake stores and Sam's Clubs as a result of a string of mysterious illnesses and deaths related to vaping.
Based in Bentonville, Arkansas, the nation's largest retailer said that it will complete its exit from e-cigarettes after selling through its current inventory. The decision comes after growing federal, state and local regulatory complexity regarding vaping products, the company said in a statement.
Recently, President Donald Trump has proposed a federal ban on flavored e-cigarettes and vaping products. Michigan placed a ban on the sale of flavored e-cigarettes this week. A few local governments, including San Francisco, have passed bans on flavored tobacco.
E-cigarettes, as well as traditional cigarettes, smokeless tobacco, and nicotine gum, represent a very small part of Walmart's nicotine business. But the vaping industry has come under increased careful examination after the deaths and illnesses along with a surge in underage e-cigarette use.
According to the United States health officials, more than 500 people have been diagnosed with breathing illnesses after the use of e-cigarettes and other vaping devices. 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 e-cigarettes and tobacco products, to 21. It also said then that it was in the process of stopping the sale of fruit and dessert-flavored electronic nicotine delivery systems.
By Sowmya Sangam