Walgreens and Kroger are taking e-cigarettes off the shelves amid a nationwide outbreak of vaping-related lung illnesses and more than a dozen deaths linked to the habit.
In a statement on Monday, Walgreens said it will cease selling the products at its locations across the country as health officials continue to investigate the crisis. The company added that its “decision is also reflective of developing regulations in a growing number of states and municipalities.”
The same day, a Kroger spokesperson told HuffPost that it is following suit.
“Kroger is discontinuing the sale of electronic nicotine delivery products, or e-cigarettes, at all store and fuel center locations due to the mounting questions and increasingly-complex regulatory environment associated with these products,” the representative said. “The company will exit this category after selling through its current inventory.”
The announcements come less than three weeks after Walmart said it would no longer sell e-cigarettes, citing growing “regulatory complexity and uncertainty” around vaping. The action applies also to its Sam’s Club stores.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, 1,080 cases of lung injury linked to e-cigarette use had been reported from 48 states and the U.S. Virgin Islands as of Oct. 1. Within 15 states, 18 deaths have been confirmed.
In all of these cases, patients reported a history of vaping, most with products containing THC, the ingredient in marijuana that creates a high. However, no single substance or product has yet been linked to all cases.
As federal, state and local agencies continue searching for answers, Michigan and New York have slapped temporary bans on flavored e-cigarettes. In Massachusetts, a temporary ban encompasses all vaping products, both flavored and non-flavored in addition to those containing marijuana and THC.
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