NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — Walmart says it will stop selling e-cigarettes after its current inventory runs out.
The retail giant cited complex government regulations as the reason as the vaping and e-cigarette industry comes under increased scrutiny after the deaths and illnesses — along with a surge in underage vaping.READ MORE: Prosecution Continues Closing Arguments In R. Kelly Sex Trafficking Trial
The Food and Drug Administration is proposing a new rule on reviewing e-cigarettes before they hit the market.
Walmart’s decision, which will also apply to its Sam’s Club stores, is the latest blow to the vaping industry, which has tried to position its products as healthier alternatives to smoking cigarettes, which are responsible for 480,000 deaths a year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
President Donald Trump has proposed a federal ban on flavored e-cigarettes and vaping products. Michigan banned the sale of flavored e-cigarettes this week. In June, San Francisco became the first major U.S. city to ban the sale of electronic cigarettes.READ MORE: School Bus Driver Suffers Apparent Medical Emergency, Crashes Into Golf Course In Belleville
E-cigarettes represent a very small part of Walmart’s nicotine business, which also includes traditional cigarettes, smokeless tobacco and nicotine gum.
The Vapor Technology Association, a trade group, was quick to slam Walmart’s move against vaping products while keeping cigarettes on its shelves.
“The fact that Walmart is reducing access for adult smokers to regulated vapor products while continuing to sell combustible cigarettes is irresponsible,” Tony Abboud, executive director of the association, said in a statement. “This will drive former adult smokers to purchase more cigarettes.”
More than 500 people have been diagnosed with breathing illnesses after using e-cigarettes and other vaping devices, according to U.S. health officials. An eighth death was reported this week. But health officials still have not identified the cause.MORE NEWS: New York City Council To Vote On Food Delivery Worker Protections
In July, Walmart, which is based in Bentonville, Arkansas, raised the minimum age to purchase tobacco products, including all e-cigarettes, to 21. It also said then that it was in the process of discontinuing the sale of fruit- and dessert-flavored electronic nicotine delivery systems.