Cincinnati-based grocery giant Kroger announced this week that it is ending the sale of electronic cigarettes amid mounting concern about the health effects associated with the products.
The chain, with more than 2,500 stores across 35 states, says that regulations around the smoking alternatives as well as questions about the health risks associated with them inspired its move to pull the products.
“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,” Kroger said in a statement. “The company will exit this category after selling through its current inventory.”
Calls to end the sale of the products have come after a dozen people died and more than 800 have fallen ill across the country from lung conditions alleged to be associated with vaping. It isn't entirely clear yet what has caused those health problems, however. So far, 22 cases of illness related to vaping have popped up in Ohio, most associated with illegal use of products containing THC. Other cases across the country have also involved THC, though some involved products that deliver nicotine.
Last week, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine called for an end to the sale of flavored vaping and e-cigarette products, a move Washington, Rhode Island, New York and Michigan have already made. DeWine and other critics say the flavored products are designed to appeal to minors too young to smoke.