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Walmart to stop selling e-cigarettes

The company announcement

The internal memo was first reported by CNBC: “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 memo to local managers. We will complete our exit after selling through current inventory.”

Vaping associated with a mysterious lung illness

The decision comes just after US health officials announced an eighth death from a mysterious lung illness associated with the e-cigarettes. The first death was reported last August. As a result several media companies no longer accept ads for the cigarettes and restrictions on their use have been tightened and elsewhere. US lawmakers, Senator Mitt Romney a Republican and Senator Jeff Merkley a Democrat have introduces a bill that would ban all flavored e-cigarettes accept tobacco flavors. The bill would also apply new taxes to the remaining e-cigarettes.

In the absence of regulations, Walmart stopped selling the popular fruit-flavored e-cigarettes and also raised the minimum age for purchase of the products to 21. E-cigarettes have been promoted as a safer alternative to smoking cigarettes but they also appear to have their own serious health issues. The attractive flavors have also enticed some to begin vaping.

It is not clear why vaping causes the lung illness

The exact cause of the lung illness has not yet been established although it appears to be associated with e-cigarettes in general. The US Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has recommended that users should consider refraining from vaping. However, if the vaping is used to stop smoking, users should not return to smoking.

Most cases of the illness are younger people as the CDC’s Dr. Schuchat reports: “The C.D.C. provided the first demographic snapshot of the afflicted: Nearly three-quarters are male, two-thirds between 18 and 34. Sixteen percent are 18 or younger. “More than half of cases are under 25 years of age,” Dr. Schuchat said.”

Lack of information makes it difficult to create satisfactory regulations

Critics have noted that research on the causes of the illness has failed so far to ascertain exactly what are the chemicals in the vaping products that cause the illness. Some critics claim that the illness may be caused by additives to the e-cigarettes. Even though many are working on the issue there are so many possible factors that exact knowledge is slow in coming.

One critic a doctor and promoter of e-cigarettes as an alternative to smoking tobacco notes: “We are not getting specific information we need to protect the public,” said Dr. Michael Siegel, a pediatrician at Boston University who has been a strong advocate for the use of e-cigarettes as a less dangerous alternative to traditional smoking. He said that the government has heavily implied that the problem is largely resulting from the use of illicit THC-related vaping products made but has not exonerated e-cigarettes, creating confusion. They’re not releasing the number of cases involved with THC,” he said. “That’s information they should be releasing.”

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