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Op-Ed: Walmart and Sam’s Club halt e-cigarette sales over vaping deaths

“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 company said in a statement provided to Digital Trends. “We will complete our exit after selling through current inventory.”

Health officials are investigating more than 500 cases of a respiratory illness associated with vaping products, and the nation’s eighth death connected to vaping was announced in Missouri on Thursday.

In looking at the bigger picture, there has been increased scrutiny from Congress to the White House to local governments, including President Trump’s proposal that all flavored e-cigarette items be banned in the U.S.

The e-cigarette industry is now facing global problems because of the vaping illnesses. Just this week, an Ontario, Canada teenager was hospitalized after becoming ill from vaping and India has banned e-cigarettes entirely. Juul e-cigarettes has disappeared from online marketplaces in China, just one week after they debuted.

In the U.S., a number of municipalities and states have moved to ban vaping products. San Francisco has banned the sale of e-cigarettes altogether, while Michigan and New York, have banned flavored vaping products. Other states have also been considering vaping bans. However, if there is a national ban, it would be a moot point.

The fear of a national ban is very real, and not only will the e-cigarette industry take a hit but the vaping community won’t be too happy if they lose their favorite vaping flavors.

“For lack of better terms and the most polite way to say it, we’re screwed,” Jai Gyorfi, who runs a vape shop in New Jersey and a popular vaping YouTube channel, told Digital Trends in response to Trump’s proposed ban. “This is bad.”

To give both sides their soap-box, the American Vaping Association criticized Walmart on Friday for dropping e-cigarettes but not tobacco products. “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,” the group said. In an opinion piece at Politico,

Bottom line? I happened across an interesting tweet in response to Walmart’s banning e-cigarettes, and yes, Walmart has done away with “open carry” of handguns in their stores as well as stopping the sale of certain kinds of ammunition. But I digress. Read this tweet from Adam Beck. I don’t need to say anything further.

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We are deeply saddened to announce the passing of our dear friend Karen Graham, who served as Editor-at-Large at Digital Journal. She was 78 years old. Karen's view of what is happening in our world was colored by her love of history and how the past influences events taking place today. Her belief in humankind's part in the care of the planet and our environment has led her to focus on the need for action in dealing with climate change. It was said by Geoffrey C. Ward, "Journalism is merely history's first draft." Everyone who writes about what is happening today is indeed, writing a small part of our history.

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