Walmart to quit selling e-cigarettes amid vaping backlash

U.S.’s largest retailer points to ‘growing’ complications in federal, state and local regulations

In this Sept. 3, 2019 file photo, a Walmart logo is displayed outside of a Walmart store, in Walpole, Mass. (AP Photo/Steven Senne, File)

Walmart is getting out of the vaping business.

The nation’s largest retailer said Friday that it will stop selling electronic cigarettes at its namesake stores and Sam’s Clubs in the U.S. when it sells out its current inventory.

It said the move is due to “growing federal, state and local regulatory complexity” regarding vaping products. It also comes after several hundred people have mysteriously fallen ill after vaping, and eight have died.

Walmart’s decision 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.

READ MORE: MLA calls on province to restrict vaping as first related illness appears in Canada

But the industry has come under increased scrutiny after the deaths and illnesses — along with a surge in underage vaping.

President Donald Trump has proposed a federal ban on flavoured e-cigarettes and vaping products. Michigan banned the sale of flavoured e-cigarettes this week. In June, San Francisco became the first major U.S. city to ban the sale of electronic cigarettes.

The bulk of e-cigarettes are sold through vape shops, which number about 115,000 nationwide, with additional outlets including drug stores, grocery stores and tobacco outlets, industry experts say.

E-cigarettes represent a very small part of Walmart’s nicotine business, which also includes traditional cigarettes, smokeless tobacco and nicotine gum, so the impact on the retailer will be small.

But, it will be difficult for vaping companies to replace that access to shoppers given Walmart’s size, said Greg Portell, global lead partner in the consumer and retail practice of A.T. Kearney, a strategy and management consulting firm. Walmart operates more than 5,000 stores under its namesake and Sam’s Club in the U.S.

“Walmart’s size and scale makes their decisions about what products to carry meaningful for the impacted products,” Portell said. “Vaping companies will be especially challenged given the lack of direct consumer access.”

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 vapour 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.

The Associated Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

Lieutenant Governor Janet Austin receives first poppy in Legion-led ceremony

The ceremony is one of the first steps to kick off the 2019 poppy campaign

Federal Election 2019: Esquimalt–Saanich–Sooke

Meet your candidates and more information on how to cast your ballot

Pacific FC parts ways with head coach before season’s end

Club says the parting is mutual and takes effect immediately

Sidney wasn’t and isn’t considering leaving current library system, says mayor

Current plans call for a review of library services in 2022

Victoria requests cruise ship visit cap while seeking limit on ship emissions

Mayor says motion is not meant to curtail current visits or limit local cruise industry expansion

Fashion Fridays: 5 things to remove from your closet

Kim XO, helps to keep you looking good on Fashion Fridays on the Black Press Media Network

LETTER: Bring medicine into our public health-care system

Let’s implement a universal single-payer public pharmacare system, says reader

Sooke Region Museum hosts Halloween ghost tour

Tales of hauntings and disasters in the offing

Kawhi Leonard, former Toronto Raptor, welcomed back to Vancouver at pre-season game

Fans go wild at pre-season game between L.A. Clippers and Dallas Mavericks at Rogers Arena

Greens and NDP go head to head on West Coast; Scheer takes fight to Bernier

Trudeau turns focus to key ridings outside Toronto after two days in Quebec

Canucks beat Stanley Cup champs 4-3 in a shootout

Leivo nets winner, Vancouver dumps St. Louis for fourth straight win

Campbell River homicide suspects arrested in Vancouver

Two men remain in custody, but have not been charged

‘The more you test, the more you find’: Beef recalls a sign of success, experts say

Despite appearances, experts say a recent rise in major recalls is not a sign of food supply problems

Scholars say religious vaccine objections can’t be traced to Biblical sources

Vaccinations are a requirement to attend class in Ontario and New Brunswick, while B.C. launched a demand this fall

Most Read