More Retailers Cease the Sale of E-Cigarettes
NATIONAL REPORT — The number of retailers who are exiting the electronic cigarette business is growing.
The moves come as the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) continue to look into the rise of vaping-related illnesses that have been reported around the country since late summer, as Convenience Store News previously reported.
On Oct. 7, Walgreens announced it would stop selling e-cigarette and vapor products. "We have made the decision to stop selling e-cigarette products at our stores nationwide as the CDC, FDA and other health officials continue to examine the issue," the company said. "This decision is also reflective of developing regulations in a growing number of states and municipalities."
Deerfield, Ill.-based Walgreens operates more than 9,500 drugstores.
The same day, Cincinnati-based The Kroger Co. made a similar decision. The parent company of such banners as King Soopers, Ralphs and Harris Teeter will stop selling e-cigarettes when it runs through its current inventory. The company's portfolio includes more than 2,700 stores and 1,500 fuel centers.
Walgreens and Kroger are following the lead of several other retailers. Last week, St. Louis-based Schnuck Markets Inc. said beginning Jan. 1, the company will end the sale of all tobacco products, including cigarettes, cigars, cigarillos, chewing tobacco and snuff. The company will sell through its existing inventory through the end of the year.
The family-owned grocery and pharmacy retailer, which operates 115 stores in Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin, and Iowa, will also continue its practice of not selling e-cigarettes or vaping products.
Starting on Oct. 15 and continuing indefinitely, Schnucks will offer double Schnucks Rewards points on all over-the counter smoking cessation products.
"Tobacco products are certainly a profitable part of our business, but our company's mission is to nourish people's lives," said Schnucks Chairman and CEO Todd Schnuck. "Tobacco products directly contradict our core mission and that means that they simply don't belong in our stores. We respect people's right to make decisions that are best for them, and while we know this may not sit well with everyone, we believe it's the right thing to do for the health of our communities, and our customers and that makes it the right decision for our company."
Bentonville, Ark.-based Walmart also announced it would stop selling all e-cigarettes in its U.S. stores, citing regulatory uncertainty around the vaping devices after the White House announced plans to ban most flavors. Like Walgreens, Walmart exit will be complete when it sells through its current inventory, as The Wall Street Journal reported.
"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," a Walmart spokeswoman said.