U.S. Markets closed

Walmart to exit e-cigarette category as pressure mounts on vaping

Walmart (WMT) is exiting the e-cigarette category completely as a rash of mysterious deaths linked to vaping draws intense scrutiny.

In an internal memo obtained by Yahoo Finance on Friday, the retail giant said that “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.”

Hundreds of unexplained illnesses linked to flavored vaping products have put the industry under fire, prompting some states and localities to tighten restrictions on the market.

In the wake of an eighth death, the Food and Drug Administration announced that it was conducting a criminal investigation of the matter. On Capitol Hill, a group of senators have asked the Trump administration to yank most e-cigarettes off the shelves entirely — including Juul, the most popular product on the market.

Inam Rehman, manager of Jubilee Vape & Smoke Inc., displays a flavored vaping solution his store sells, Monday Sept. 16, 2019, in New York. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo is pushing to enact a statewide ban on the sale of flavored e-cigarettes amid growing health concerns of vaping. (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews)

As a result of the intensifying pressure, Walmart added that it “will complete our exit after selling through current inventory.”

Back in May, the big-box retailer voluntarily raised the age to purchase tobacco products, including e-cigarettes, to 21 at all of its U.S. stores. At the time, Walmart said it would also end the sale of fruit and dessert-flavored electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS)—otherwise known as e-cigarettes.

Yahoo Finance's All Markets Summit, Oct. 10

Julia La Roche is a finance reporter at Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter.