Walmart: selling e-cigarettes very bad, tobacco not so much

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You’ll have to be 21 to buy tobacco at Walmart.
 Getty/Jeff Greenberg

Walmart will stop selling e-cigarettes as backlash spreads

20 September 2019 |  Nathaniel Meyersohn |CNN Business 

New York (CNN Business)Walmart said Friday it will stop selling e-cigarettes as the number of deaths tied to vaping grows and public officials crack down on the industry.

 

The decision by America’s largest retailer may influence other stores and marks another setback for the vaping industry. Walmart said it’s exiting the business because of regulatory flux. CBS, Viacom and CNN parent company WarnerMedia also announced this week they would prohibit e-cigarette advertisements on their networks.
“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 US locations,” the company said in a statement. “We will complete our exit after selling through current inventory.”
For Walmart, the move is another illustration of the company’s willingness to wade into controversial issues. Earlier this month, Walmart announced it would stop selling handgun ammunition and ammunition commonly used in military-style assault weapons, as well as discourage customers from openly carrying guns at stores.
Halting the sale of e-cigarettes is also Walmart’s latest major decision in restricting the availability of tobacco.
Earlier this year, Walmart raised the minimum age to buy tobacco to 21. The changes took effect July 1 at all US Walmart and Sam’s Club locations. The company said at the time that it would stop selling sweet-flavored e-cigarettes, which have become popular among teenagers.
The vaping industry has experienced rapid growth. Euromonitor International, a research firm, estimated it will be worth $34 billion globally by 2021, up 176% from 2016. Last year, Altria, America’s preeminent cigarette company, took a 35% stake in e-cigarette maker Juul, worth $12.8 billion.

Vaping industry in turmoil

Walmart’s decision to step away fully from e-cigarettes comes as more states restrict the products.
New York state health officials voted Tuesday to carry out Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s executive action to ban sales of most flavored e-cigarettes. This ban would stand for 90 days as a piece of emergency legislation. It would need to be renewed to continue. Last week, Michigan became the first state to ban the sale of flavored e-cigarettes.
President Donald Trump said last week that the FDA would be putting out “some very strong recommendations” regarding the use of flavored e-cigarettes.
The eighth person in the United States died Thursday from lung disease related to vaping, according to Missouri health officials.
There have been 530 confirmed and probable cases of lung injuries related to e-cigarettes as of September 17, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Thursday. That’s 150 more than was reported on September 11.
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Food and Drug Administration and state health departments have been investigating this outbreak.
Still, health officials said they haven’t found a definitive cause or a clear connection between cases, and they warned that patients worried about becoming ill from vaping should refrain from using e-cigarettes.

—CNN’s Jen Christensen and Jamie Gumbrecht contributed to this article.
01 July 2019 | Hayley Peterson | Business Insider

Walmart on Monday stopped selling tobacco products, including e-cigarettes, to anyone under 21 years old.

The company announced plans in May to raise the minimum age for tobacco purchases from 18 years old to 21 years old. The change took effect Monday in all US Walmart and Sam’s Club stores.

Walmart also said in May that it is in the process of discontinuing the sale of fruit- and dessert-flavored e-cigarettes, which research shows are preferred by minors.

Previously, employees who failed the tests were required to engage in extra training and instruction, but faced no disciplinary action.

That changed in April. Employees who fail the “secret shopper” tests will now be at risk of termination. The company said it plans to conduct 8,000 “secret shopper” checks in 2019.

Walmart’s changes follow a spate of similar changes by various companies and lawmakers aimed at curbing tobacco usage by minors.

Walgreens announced in April that it would raise the minimum age for purchasing tobacco products to 21, not long after Rite Aid said it would stop selling all e-cigarettes and vaping products.

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