Walmart to stop selling e-cigarettes amid vaping-related illnesses and deaths

Walmart is about to quit vaping. 

The nation's biggest retailer plans to sell out the e-cigarettes it has in stock, then stop carrying the products.

In a statement, Walmart said it was responding to "regulatory complexity and uncertainty regarding e-cigarettes."

The devices and fluids they vaporize are believed to be linked to an outbreak of lung disease, more than 500 cases in 38 states. 

Thursday, an eighth death was reported, a St. Louis man in his mid-40s who was apparently vaping THC for pain for only a few months. 

As federal investigators look for causes and commonalities among the cases, various bans are passing in cities and states.

Walmart is the first mainstream seller to abandon the products. 

"That's cool, I'm glad to hear that because it's making people sick," said shopper Larry Canada outside the Rohnert Park Walmart.

"I think Walmart's doing the right thing, but I don't think a lot of people come to Walmart to purchase their vape," responded shopper Danelle Ricardo, learning of the new policy. 

A few minutes away from Rohnert Park's Walmart, the reaction at a vape shop was more negative. 

"It's unfair and creating this scare that's unnecessary," said J.P. Herman, staffer at the E-Cig 101 Store, in business for six years.  

"If you look at any of the juices that most shops have, the ingredients are right there on the label, completely lab tested every single time."

Established sellers such as E-Cig 101 are trying to reassure worried customers.

Employees point out, most of the people sickened were not vaping flavored nicotine, but THC derived from cannabis, and possibly contaminated with Vitamin E oil to make the solution stretch further.   

"Most of this is caused by what they call 'bathtub cartridges,' stuff you make on the black market and sell on the black market," said Anthony Adame, also of E-Cig 101. 

Having Walmart exit the market doesn't affect the specialized shops monetarily, but more bad publicity does. 

"It's definitely wrong that they're pulling something off the shelf, that helps people get off cigarettes, because of a scare without real research," said Adame. 

Some Walmart customers admit to mixed feelings, because they have used vapes to quit smoking. 

"I think people really need to look at where they're buying it from and who they're buying it from," said shopper Denise Denham.

Denham suspects inferior products- not brands at Walmart- are behind the outbreak, but supports the ban anyway.  

"I was a smoker for seven years, and I vaped for two, and now I don't smoke or vape, but it's good Walmart takes it all off." 

Another shopper showed the tiny device he uses to vape nicotine, and said he doesn't worry about lung ailments. 

"I worried when I smoked cigarettes but I breathe a lot better now," said Chris Jones, "and I don't buy my vape pens or vape juice at Walmart, I buy toothpaste and toilet paper here."

Walmart has become more responsive to current issues.  

After recent mass shootings, it announced it would curb the types of firearms and ammunition it sells. 
Tobacco products are still offered, but stores now require buyers to be 21. 

And since cigarette-makers have big money in the vape industry, critics say that's why it exploded unchecked.    

"It makes money and anything that makes money gets rushed to market," said shopper Ed Perrault.
"But if you inhale stuff into your lungs you're going to have some health consequences."

Federal legislation is being drafted that would outlaw all flavors except tobacco, and tax vaping products like tobacco. 

A congressional subcommittee is scheduled to hold a hearing on the outbreak of respiratory disease on Tuesday.