The fallout over the spate of vaping-linked deaths continued on Friday, as Walmart announced that it will stop selling e-cigarettes.
In a memo to local managers, the world’s largest retailer cited “regulatory complexity” and industry “uncertainty” as its reasoning behind the decision.
“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,” the memo said. “We will complete our exit after selling through current inventory.”
The move is just the latest bit of blowback for an e-cigarette industry that finds itself under increasing scrutiny for products that have been linked to hundreds of hospitalizations and a disquieting rise in deaths.
E-cigarettes have long been billed as a safer alternative to conventional cigarettes, but the sudden uptick in vaping-related illnesses has cast considerable doubt on those claims.
Walmart’s announcement on Friday represents a significant setback for the vaping industry, which has in recent weeks drawn the attention of the federal government.
Earlier this month, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued a rebuke to the popular e-cigarette company Juul Labs for making unauthorized claims that its product is “much