Walmart said Friday it will stop selling e-cigarettes as the number of deaths tied to vaping grows and federal officials prepare to crack down on the industry.
The decision from America’s largest retailer may influence other stores and marks a significant blow to the vaping industry.
“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 US locations,” the company said in a statement. “We will complete our exit after selling through current inventory.”
Halting the sale of e-cigarettes is Walmart’s latest major decision in restricting the availability of tobacco.
Earlier this year, Walmart raised the minimum age to buy tobacco to 21. The changes took effect July 1 at all US Walmart and Sam’s Club locations. The company said at the time that it would stop selling sweet-flavored e-cigarettes, which have become popular among teenagers.
Walmart’s move comes after President Donald Trump said last week that the FDA would be putting out “some very strong recommendations” regarding the use of flavored e-cigarettes.
The eighth person in the United States died Thursday from lung disease related to vaping, according to Missouri health officials.
There have been 530 confirmed and probable cases of lung injuries related to e-cigarettes as of September 17, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Thursday. That’s 150 more than was reported on September 11.
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Food and Drug Administration and state health departments have been investigating this outbreak.
Still, health officials said they haven’t found a definitive cause or a clear connection between cases, and they warned that patients worried about becoming ill from vaping should refrain from using e-cigarettes.