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Walmart To Stop Selling E-Cigarettes


Today Walmart announced that it is ending the sale of electronic cigarettes. As NPR's Colin Dwyer reports, the announcement comes as concerns grow about the health effects of vaping.

COLIN DWYER, BYLINE: In a brief note to employees, Walmart said it will be phasing out sales of e-cigarettes or what it calls electronic nicotine delivery products. The announcement by the world's largest retailer was just two sentences long, but it could have repercussions for this industry for months to come. This comes just one day after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention sounded the alarm on vaping.

ANNE SCHUCHAT: I want to stress that we at CDC are very concerned about the occurrence of life-threatening illness in otherwise healthy young people reported from around the country.

DWYER: That's Anne Schuchat, deputy director at the CDC, which found 530 cases of confirmed or probable lung illnesses related to vaping. And eight e-cigarette users are dead. Investigations have been launched not only by the CDC but also by the Food and Drug Administration and state health departments. Here's Illinois Department of Public Health Chief Medical Officer Jennifer Layden.

JENNIFER LAYDEN: This investigation requires an all-hands-on-deck approach. This is a complicated investigation, and data from states across the country are critical to helping us identify the potential causative substances.

DWYER: Earlier this month, Michigan became the first state to ban sales of flavored e-cigarettes. All these moves by regulators put a lot of pressure on Walmart. The company said the increasingly complex rules and the general uncertainty of the situation clinched its decision. We should note here that Walmart is an NPR sponsor. The company plans to end sales of electronic nicotine products at all of its U.S. locations, as well as its subsidiary Sam's Club just as soon as their current inventory runs out.

Colin Dwyer, NPR News, New York.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Colin Dwyer covers breaking news for NPR. He reports on a wide array of subjects — from politics in Latin America and the Middle East, to the latest developments in sports and scientific research.