Walmart to stop selling e-cigarettes in the US amid vaping illness investigation

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Friday, September 20, 2019
What we know about vaping illness outbreak, deaths
U.S. health officials are investigating what might be causing hundreds of serious breathing illnesses in people who use e-cigarettes and other vaping devices.

Walmart plans to stop selling e-cigarettes in the United States as health authorities continue to investigate an outbreak of vaping-related breathing illnesses.

In a statement to ABC News, the retailer cited "growing federal, state and local regulatory complexity and uncertainty regarding e-cigarettes." The decision encompasses "electronic nicotine delivery products at all Walmart and Sam's Club U.S. locations."

Walmart will sell through its current inventory of e-cigarettes.

More than 500 people have been diagnosed with vaping-related breathing illnesses, but the cause remains unknown, U.S. health officials said Thursday. An eighth death was also reported.

Meanwhile, the Food and Drug Administration revealed that its criminal investigations unit started tracking leads early on, as cases pointed to black-market vaping products. The agency's tobacco director, Mitch Zeller, stressed that it is not interested in prosecuting individuals who use illegal products but is lending a hand because of the unit's "special skills."

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said 530 confirmed and probable cases have been reported in 38 states and one U.S. territory, up from 380 a week ago.

Missouri joined the list later Thursday, announcing the death this week of a man in his mid-40s at a St. Louis hospital.

Canada reported its first case Wednesday, a high school student who was on life support and has since recovered.

All patients had used an electronic cigarette or other vaping device.

Doctors have said the illnesses resemble an inhalation injury, with the lungs apparently reacting to a caustic substance. So far, no single vaping product or ingredient has been linked to the illnesses, though most patients reported vaping THC, the high-producing ingredient in marijuana.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.