In a highly publicised internal memorandum, the retail chain has stated: “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 action takes immediate effect and no further orders will be placed. All current stockholding will be sold through and not dumped. A spokesperson said that vaping constitutes a “relatively small category overall”.
The decision fails to acknowledge its role as a major chain to provide healthier alternatives for its customers. The action follows a number of cases of THC-related lung disease that has been conflated with vaping and displays a lack of spine.
Tony Abboud, executive director of the Vapor Technology Association, commented: “The fact that Walmart is reducing access for adult smokers to regulated vapour products while continuing to sell combustible cigarettes is irresponsible. This will drive former adult smokers to purchase more cigarettes. Science has demonstrated that vaping as a substitute for smoking saves lives.”
Responding to the rampant gun-related deaths, Walmart made the decision to restrict sales of some ammunition and ban open carry, but still sells a wide range of guns. It is not removing cigarettes from sale because of proven links to cancer.
The American Vaping Association is a non-profit organisation that advocates for fair and sensible regulation of vapor products. Its President, Gregory Conley, said in a statement: “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. Removing vaping products from shelves will do nothing to stop drug dealers from continuing to sell contaminated marijuana oil cartridges on the street. This is like 7-Eleven announcing they’ll no longer be selling beer and wine because some people went blind from drinking moonshine made in a bathtub.”
“This is the natural consequence of a seemingly never-ending stream of misleading news stories and over the top pronouncements from elected officials. This is a good month to be a cigarette manufacturer.”
Trade group The National Association of Convenience Stores announced that it would not be recommending similar action for its members. Senior vice president Lyle Beckwith said: “We are not scientists, we are retailers. Our job is to sell legal products responsibly.”