Sep 20, 2019

Walmart to discontinue e-cigarette sales amid regulatory uncertainty

Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Walmart announced Friday that it will discontinue e-cigarette sales in its stores after a rash of vaping-related deaths, per CNBC.

Why it matters: The world’s largest retailer cited "growing federal, state and local regulatory complexity and uncertainty" around the product and said that it would stop selling e-cigarettes after selling through its current inventory.

The big picture: Walmart's move comes after vaping has faced a wave of scrutiny across the board — from Congress to the White House to local governments. At least 8 people have died from mysterious vaping-related illnesses.

  • President Trump has proposed banning all flavored e-cigarette items.
  • The industry is even facing issues around the world. India has banned e-cigarettes entirely while Juul's products disappeared from online Chinese marketplaces just a week after they debuted.

The state of play: The retailer also has been more actively taking a stance on societal issues, announcing earlier this month that it would end all sales of short-barrel rifle ammunition that can be used with military-style assault weapons.

  • Walmart CEO Doug McMillon is set to chair the Business Roundtable, a group made up of the nation's top CEOs, at the start of next year.
  • 181 BRT CEOs signed onto a statement last month that driving shareholder value is no longer their sole business objective, instead expanding their mission to include everything from taking care of employees to helping their communities.

Go deeper: CEOs are the new politicians

Go deeper

How CEOs trump politicians

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Walmart, which first banned assault weapon sales and now vaping products, is providing a template of how CEOs can move beyond a monomaniacal focus on profits.

Why it matters: It’s one thing to sign an unenforceable pledge to think more about employees and society, like most members of the Business Roundtable did. It’s another to take specific action while politicians dither.

Go deeperArrowUpdated Sep 22, 2019

Regulatory gaps are exacerbating the youth vaping crisis

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

The delay in implementing comprehensive regulations for e-cigarettes has contributed to a growing crisis of vaping-related illnesses and deaths across the U.S. and poses particular risks to young adults.

The big picture: E-cigarette use by American teenagers has surged, and the dangers are heightened by unsafe black market vaping devices and THC cartridges. But a recent flurry of regulatory activity by states looks set to continue, with federal action following shortly.

Go deeperArrowOct 11, 2019

Court temporarily stalls New York ban on flavored e-cigarettes

A man smokes an e-cigarette in New York in 2017.  Photo: Jewel Samad/AFP/Getty Images

A state appellate court blocked New York's ban on all flavored electronic cigarettes the first week of October, preventing New York from becoming the second state to put such a ban in place, the Wall Street Journal reports.

The big picture: The Food and Drug Administration announced last month that it was finalizing plans to pull all flavored e-cigarette cartridges from the market. Massachusetts currently has the harshest vaping ban in U.S.

Go deeperArrowUpdated Oct 4, 2019