Walmart, the world's largest retailer, has stopped selling e-cigarettes at all its stores (including Sam's Club) in the United States. There is the possibility that E-cigarettes might cause lung diseases.
"Given the growing federal, national and local regulatory complexity and uncertainty regarding e-cigarettes, we plan to discontinue the sale of electronic nicotine delivery products in all branches of Walmart and Sam's Club U.S. locations", an internal memo seen by CNBC states. The supermarket chain will however still sell the remaining stock.
So far, E-cigarettes have always been considered to be less harmful than ordinary cigarettes, but the industry has come under attack because health officials in the United States have linked the use of E-cigarettes to a mysterious lung disease, which has now killed eight people out of 530 known cases. Specialists have not been able to identify one single brand or substance as being behind it, but most patients admit to using THC, the substance found in marijuana that causes a 'high'. Some have used both nicotine and THC, while others say they have only smoked E-cigarettes.
Earlier this year, Walmart raised the age at which it was possible to buy tobacco products to 21. This decision was taken because E-cigarettes had become very popular with teenagers: more than a quarter of school children regularly 'vape'.
The American Vaping Association has not been sparing in its criticism of Walmart, since the chain continues to sell ordinary cigarettes and other deadly items, such as weapons. "You know you are in the middle of a moral panic when big corporations like Walmart find it is easier to sell deadly combustible tobacco products than to sell harm reduction alternatives."