ST. LOUIS – Big news when it comes to e-cigarettes and vaping. One day after Missouri reported its first vaping related death, Walmart announced it would no longer be in the e-cigarette business.
The big-box chain issued a statement saying: “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. We will complete our exit after selling through current inventory.”
Dr. Michael Plisco, a pulmonary critical care physician at Mercy Hospital in Creve Coeur, supports Walmart’s decision.
Plisco treated the southern Missouri man in his 40s who died early Wednesday morning at Mercy in what’s been called a vaping-related death.
That man was Missouri’s first vaping-related death and the eighth nationwide.
According to the CDC, there have been some 530 cases of lung injuries from people who either used e-cigarettes or vaped.
“Don’t do it until we know what we’re dealing with. Don’t do it. Could be at the personal level, could be at the family level, and now we’re taking it at the public level,” Plisco said. “We’re saying here’s a store, a big chain, that’s taking a stand and saying, you know what, we support this until we know more.”
Meanwhile, John Huck, who owns three E-Cig Mania stores in the area, opposes Walmart’s move.
Huck believes many of the health problems are from people using e-cigarettes with THC being sold on the black market. He worries that Walmart’s decision may result in people stopping vaping and returning to smoking regular cigarettes.
“It’s sending the wrong message to America,” Huck said. “There’s too many people that shop in America. It’s all over the news. I mean, you’re here because of that.”
Huck was asked what message he was worried about.
“That something’s wrong with e-cigs,” he said.
Steve Dugan smoked for years and now vapes. He said Walmart’s decision won’t make him think twice about vaping.
“Vaping I want to say helped me quit tobacco,” he said. “I would recommend it for anybody that was trying to quit smoking.”
Huck said he and his wife just got back from Washington D.C., where they were opposing the talk of banning flavored vaping.
Walmart said it will continue to sell tobacco products to customers 21 and older.