NEW YORK — Walgreens and Kroger Co. are ending sales of e-cigarettes amid heightened regulatory scrutiny of the products and reports of lung disease and some deaths linked to vaping.
“We have made the decision to stop selling e-cigarette products at our stores nationwide” as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Food and Drug Administration “and other health officials continue to examine the issue,” Walgreens said in a statement. “This decision is also reflective of developing regulations in a growing number of states and municipalities.”
Walmart said earlier it would stop selling the products, citing growing federal, state and local regulatory complexity and uncertainty.
For its part, CVS Health applauded Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo for instituting a state ban on flavored e-cigarettes. The Woonsocket, R.I.-based retailer hailed the Democrat for “taking a critical step to curtail the use of flavored e-cigarettes in our home state. This important action will reduce the number of youths in the state who are exposed to tobacco and other harmful products, which can reduce the prevalence of tobacco-related diseases and make a significant impact on the health of our next generation.”
As the only national retail pharmacy chain to have eliminated the sale of cigarettes and other harmful tobacco products from its stores, CVS saluted Raimondo “for her leadership in putting health first for Rhode Islanders. This, and similar actions across the country, get us one step closer to the first tobacco-free generation.”
E-cigarettes and other vaping products have been linked to a mysterious lung illness that is reported to have led to 18 deaths as of mid-September, CVS noted, with the number of confirmed and probable cases of the condition exceeding 1,000, according to the CDC.
New York State and Michigan also banned flavored e-cigarettes, and the Trump administration is planning a federal ban. Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said that, with President Trump’s blessing, the FDA was working on a guidance document that would lead to a ban of all e-cigarette flavors aside from tobacco flavoring.
“Once the FDA would finalize this guidance, we would begin enforcement actions to remove all such products from the marketplace,” Azar said.