Citing “regulatory complexity and uncertainty” surrounding e-cigarettes, Walmart is gearing up to stop selling the product, according to a CNBC report on a company memo about the decision. Touted as the world’s third-largest employer, Walmart confirmed the same via a statement to The Verge.
The statement says, “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.”
This big decision comes in the wake of US health officials holding a mysterious vaping-related lung illness responsible for the eight death, with the first death been reported back in August.
Since then, multiple media companies opted to stop showing vaping ads, while policymakers have come up with restrictions in the United States and elsewhere and policymakers have begun to tighten restrictions in the US and elsewhere.
On September 19th, Sens. Mitt Romney (R-UT) and Jeff Merkley (D-OR) introduced a bill that bans all e-cigarette flavors aside from tobacco and applies new taxes to the potentially dangerous products.
Earlier this year, Walmart stopped selling flavored liquids (juices) for e-cigarette products and also raised the age restriction of buying tobacco products to 21 years.
Earlier this year, Walmart decided to stop selling fruit-flavored e-cigarette products, while increasing the minimum age for buying tobacco products to 21. E-cigarettes are touted as relatively less harmful products compared to regular cigarettes; however, dessert-like flavors have been accused of leading teenagers into vaping.
The deadly lung illness has been associated with e-cigarettes in general, but details about the exact cause of the disease are still few and far between. CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) has recommended that people, “consider refraining from using an e-cigarette or vaping products” — given that started vaping to quit smoking, it is imperative for them to not go back to smoking cigarettes.
In other words, if the vaping products were used to quit smoking, they shouldn’t switch back to cigarettes after the ban. Vaping is yet to establish proper regulations unlike cigarettes which are well-established. As a result, it’s not surprising that Walmart could find that unsettling.
While smoking cigarettes have well-established rules, vaping isn’t exactly restricted by any such regulation, and it is hardly surprising that a company such as Walmart found that disconcerting. It remains to be seen whether or not Walmart will restart selling e-cigarettes if new legislation is passed or new details about the recent illnesses surfaces.