Walmart stops selling e-cigarettes in US as reports of vaping-related deaths soar
The US retailer giant Walmart Inc has announced it will no longer sell electronic cigarettes and electronic nicotine delivery products at its US stores due to reports of vaping-related lung disease and deaths.
According to an internal company memo sent out to Walmart employees on Friday and seen by Reuters, the retailer is concerned with the growing teenage interest in vape-smoking, as well as the alarming number of reports on cases of vaping-related lung disease and deaths.
It noted that the current uncertainty over regulations regarding vape-smoking at federal, state and local levels also makes it difficult to continue selling vaping-related products.
The data from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) published earlier this week, shows the number of vaping-related lung disease has risen to 530 probable cases, up from 380 last week. Eight people have so far died from the mysterious ailments attributed to the habit.
The US Food and Drug Administration on Thursday launched a criminal probe into the recent spike in vaping-related illnesses. It has collected more than 150 vaping product samples in order to test them for traces of nicotine, cannabinoids, opioids, pesticides, poisons, toxins and other potentially dangerous substances.
Walmart’s action on Friday follows bans on sales of flavored vaping products, which are especially attractive to youngsters, in the states of New York and Michigan. Also, President Donald Trump’s administration recently announced plans to remove all flavored e-cigarettes from stores as half of the cases of vaping-related illnesses are people younger than 25, with 16% aged under 18. A congressional subcommittee is scheduled to hold a hearing on the outbreak next Tuesday.
According to Politico, the government is drafting a bipartisan bill which is to ban vaping flavors other than tobacco, as well as to apply existing tobacco taxes to vaping products and launch a campaign describing the health risks posed by e-cigarettes.
A recent study by the New York State Department of Health suggested that Vitamin E acetate, a thickening agent in THC oil which is inhaled during vape-smoking, is to blame for the lung illnesses. However, leading makers of nicotine e-cigarettes, including Juul Labs Inc, British American Tobacco Plc and Imperial Brands Plc all claim their products do not contain Vitamin E compounds.
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