Healthcare

Walmart to stop selling e-cigarettes

Walmart announced Friday it will stop selling e-cigarettes as federal and state governments crack down on 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 U.S. locations," a Walmart spokesperson said Friday. "We will complete our exit after selling through current inventory."

CNBC first reported the news. 

The Department of Health and Human Services announced last week it would issue a ban on the sale of flavored e-cigarette products, which it argues appeal to kids and get them addicted them to nicotine.

New federal data released this week show youth vaping rates are soaring. A quarter of high school seniors surveyed said they had vaped in the previous 30 days. 

The governors of New York and Michigan also announced bans this week on the sale of flavored e-cigarette products.

State and federal health officials are also investigating a string of illnesses that have been tied to vaping. 

While the illnesses have not been tied to any specific e-cigarette brands, health officials are urging the public not to vape THC or buy vapes off the street or black market. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says most of the people who have become sick said they vaped THC. Some said they vaped both nicotine and THC, while others said they have only vaped nicotine.

Seven people have died so far.

But some health experts say the illnesses are likely caused by black market products, not e-cigarettes sold in stores or online that are regulated by the government. 

The Food and Drug Administration said most of the products it has tested that contained THC also contained vitamin E acetate, a substance that can be harmful if inhaled into the lungs. 

The Vapor Technology Association, a trade group representing e-cigarette companies, criticized Walmart's decision.

"The fact that Walmart is reducing access for adult smokers to regulated vapor products while continuing to sell combustible cigarettes is irresponsible. This will drive former adult smokers to purchase more cigarettes," said Tony Abboud, the group's executive director.

Updated at 3:28 p.m.

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