Walmart stops selling e-cigarettes as vaping death count grows

Originally published at:

read the statement. They are discontinuing sales because they are uncertain about the regulatory environment. They already know how to deal with tobacco regulations, and they don’t see any new ones coming. Walmart knows damn well how legislators tend to react when the public gets spooked about something and they want to get in front of it.


If you’re gonna vape to get high, vape plant matter, not solvents!

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I’m sure that if we all push our congresspeople to pass legislation protecting e-cig distributors just like they currently protect gun distributors, they’ll be more than happy to get to restocking the Juuls. Let’s get to it!

Perversely, it is much riskier for the retailer to sell e-cigarettes than conventional cigarettes. The reason is there is virtually zero chance Walmart will be involved in litigation regarding conventional cigarettes because the risks are so well known.

E-cigarettes, on the other hand, are sold as safer or at least thought to be safer, so in the unlikely event that harm or death can be tied to them, they could sue Walmart.

This is a justifiable decision economically.

It is catastrophically stupid from a public health point of view, though.


Two points of clarification for @xeni by way of tobacco control doynne Stan Glantz:

  • All nicotine-containing vaping fluids and THC-containing vaping fluids are illegally on the market because “FDA is not yet enforcing the provisions of the Tobacco Control Act that require premarket approval of e-cigarettes.”
  • “Many, but not all, the people who got sick used THC e-cigs, often as well as nicotine e-cigs,” one possible implication being that the ubiquitous propylene glycol and/or vegetable glycerin carrier in vaping fluids may be implicated, as demonstrated in an animal model.

Exactly right. I yield to no one in my hatred for Wal-Mart, but this is nothing more or less than avoiding being the deep pockets for the inevitable tidal wave of lawsuits.

As someone who hopes Wal-Mart gets sued into oblivion for all the shitty things they ARE actually responsible for, I can’t say this bothers me.


Also – Walmart will keep selling the old-fashioned burning tobacco cigarettes!

Which confirms that this isn’t about promoting public health (or reducing public douchebaggery), but rather about corporate CYA. I can’t really blame them from that point of view.


But, but, guns kill more people!

Can’t stop selling those now can they?

Fuck this stupid timeline.


“We will complete our exit after selling through current inventory.”

This is all you need to know to understand that it’s not about customer safety. When there’s tainted food they pull all of the affected products from the store.

They’re not about to lose money on the deal regardless of the danger.


That is one possible implication, but that leaves one glaring question: If it’s propylene glycol or glycerin causing the current spate of illnesses, why now? VG and PG have both been used in E-cigs for years, so why are we seeing these results only now?

The time dependence leads me to think it’s more likely due to diluents / cutting agents like Vitamin E Acetate and/or mineral oil in black-market THC cartridges. Rolling Stone has a selection of pieces following the phenomenon, and so far, the reporting’s not bad.

Granted, that doesn’t explain the illnesses in people who haven’t used cannabis cartridges, so there’s either more information to be discovered, or a lot of people in cannabis-intolerant states who aren’t being forthcoming. Or both. Probably both.


All vaping liquids are “black market,” as the FDA has shirked its mandatory pre-market oversight on tobacco.

Granted, that doesn’t explain the illnesses in people who haven’t used cannabis cartridges,

Nor does it explain the pulmonary damage in the animal model study.


“Solvent” is meaningless scare word. WATER IS A SOLVENT.


All vaping liquids are “black market,” as the FDA has shirked its mandatory pre-market oversight on tobacco.

OK, but so what? Pedantry won’t give any insight into the current rash of illnesses.

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Lol, yeah, you’re right.

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I am challenging the framing of “THC vaping liquid is illegal/illicit but nicotine vaping liquid is not” implicit in xeni’s post and some of the comments here. The emerging consensus in the research lit seems to be that nicotine vaping is far from harmless, and the current rash of illnesses may in fact be related to nicotine and THC vaping.

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MILLIONS of people have been vaping for YEARS.

Over the course of SIX MONTHS, there have been approximately 600, LOCALIZED, illnesses, often with relatively new users.

That latter does not seem statistically related to the former. I can’t think of any model that would show those as related events even (outside of a thematic one). It’s clearly a bad actor.


Every time i see someone with their first sized ugly vape I light a dart and smile. None of us are making it out of this life alive and tobacco has been an incredibly useful medicine to me, and this idea that me doing something humans have done forever is somehow more dangerous than humans trying out some new dumb thing is very funny to me.

Sure thing. People believing in and doing something for years definitely means it’s safe.

No wait, that’s not right.

Yup, framing matters. The questions that get answered are the questions that get asked. If vaping is framed as a healthy alternative to smoking, so harmless that the FDA doesn’t even enforce its own regulations regarding it, then the difficult questions aren’t asked. Frame it instead as the ingestion of a cocktail of bioactive compounds whose effects on human physiology are largely unknown and you increase the likelihood of actual research being done.


You’re forgetting the most important part: people look so cool and edgy smoking or vaping. And then they become addicted to the nicotine and can’t stop being cool and edgy. That’s the real “medicine” at work here, ma-a-a-an.