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Tobacco

Walmart Drops E-Cigarettes

Big-box retailer cites ‘regulatory complexity’ about vaping devices
Photograph: Shutterstock

BENTONVILLE, Ark. — Citing “regulatory complexity” and “uncertainty” around vaping devices, major big-box retailer Walmart will stop selling electronic cigarettes, CNBC reported.

In what the news organization said was an internal memo, the Bentonville, Ark.-based retailer said, “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.”

The big-box retailer had made major decisions about the tobacco category in recent months. In May, Walmart officials announced it would stop selling fruit- and dessert-flavored e-cigarettes. In the same statement, the chain said it would also raise the buying age of tobacco products from the federal minimum of 18 to 21 at its locations.

Earlier this month, officials with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) made public statements about studies and investigations it was coordinating on possible deaths and illnesses tied to vaping devices.

Multiple statements followed, including tweets from President Donald Trump, specifically concerning flavored vaping devices and e-cigarettes. U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said the U.S. Food and Drug Administration would soon come out with a new guidance document that would address flavors in e-cigarettes—including mint and menthol—as well as products on the market that have yet to submit new product applications to the FDA. These applications are known as premarket tobacco applications (PMTAs).

Meanwhile, governors in Michigan and New York took separate actions in September to ban flavored e-cigarettes in their states, both officials using executive orders to do so. California also attempted a ban on flavored e-cigarettes, but Gov. Gavin Newsom failed to secure the required legislative support.

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