Two Major US Retailers Pull Vaping Devices Amid Hysteria
Both companies cite an uncertain regulatory environment as the reason for the move.
The hysteria surrounding vaping has reached a fever pitch as of late, leaving the future of the burgeoning industry in question. A spectrum of legislative onslaught ranging from bans on all flavored vapor products to the complete prohibition of vaping has left many retailers scrambling to navigate this new regulatory landscape.
Major US retail chains Kroger and Walgreens have both announced that they would stop selling all vapor products in their stores. The move follows similar moves by retail juggernaut Walmart and the Walgreens-owned Rite-Aid chain over recent months.
Anti-vaping activists have praised the move by both retailers, citing it as a win for public health at large. Critics challenged that assertion, noting the major potential negative public health ramifications of restricting access to proven smoking cessation devices to former smokers.
The regulatory attack against vaping comes amid a wave of reports of lung illnesses being caused by the use of illicit marijuana oil cartridges, yet being blamed on “vaping” at large. The lack of clarity and distinction in media reports and bans threatens the future of a regulated beneficial reduced-harm smoking cessation tool while leaving the problematic black market products completely unaffected.
An Uncertain Future
Major US drugstore chain Walgreens and supermarket chain Kroger have both recently announced plans to halt sales of all vapor products once current inventory runs out. This follows similar moves by Walgreens subsidiary Rite-Aid in April and retail behemoth Walmart just this past month.
Both companies have cited an uncertain regulatory environment as their reason for the move, following a wave of regulatory crackdowns throughout the United States. The great variance in legality and rapid rate at which regulations are changing has made it too cumbersome for national retail chains to navigate, making carrying the products more of a financial burden than a benefit.
These regulatory crackdowns come on the back of a wave of reports of various lung illnesses caused by the use of illegally produced cannabis cartridges, which have somehow been repeatedly misattributed to nicotine vaping. Despite the CDC finally coming forward to admit the outbreaks were caused by these black-market cartridges, media outlets continue to misattribute them to “vaping” without any clear distinction.
This lack of distinction has created public hysteria propelled by fear-mongering media that, in turn, has led to a wave of regulatory crackdowns across the United States. This misinformed hysteria and uncertain regulatory climate have left the future of the until-recently booming vaping industry in serious jeopardy.
Facts About Vaping
The worldwide smoking epidemic currently impacts over 1 billion people throughout the world. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that there are nearly 38 million smokers in the United States alone, 16 million of whom are currently living with some kind of smoking-related diseases.
Vaping has repeatedly proven itself as a highly effective smoking cessation tool in the fight against this epidemic. In a study conducted by the University of Louisville, researchers concluded vaping was the single most effective smoking cessation aid, even more than going cold turkey or prescription options.
Alongside being a proven smoking cessation aid, research also shows the reduced harm vaping poses compared to smoking. Separate studies conducted by Public Health England and the Roswell Park Cancer Center each concluded that vaping was 95% safer and 93% safer than smoking, respectively.
In addition to this, a study by the Journal of Aerosol Sciences discovered that those who vape have a remarkable 57,000 times reduced risk of cancer compared to those who smoke. The team also found that vapor is far less stable and smaller than cigarette smoke, posing a reduced risk of harm.
The move by Krogers and Walgreens following Walmart and Rite-Aid to discontinue sales of all vapor products signals a worrying trend for the vaping industry and community at large. A largely reduced retail presence not only threatens the future of the sector, but reduced access to proven smoking cessation options may only exacerbate the deadly worldwide smoking epidemic.
Alongside these major retailers effectively pulling out of the market, an uncertain and unstable regulatory climate threatens the very existence of smaller mom-and-pop vape shops. This reduced brick-and-mortar presence effectively reduces safe access to regulated smoking cessation tools for former smokers, who may end up taking up smoking again or switching to dangerous black market alternatives.
The vaping industry and community must continue to remain vigilant in correcting misinformed narratives surrounding vaping, and stay civically engaged in pushing back against overzealous and unwarranted regulation. Sharing stories like this and social media initiatives such as posting under the hashtag “I vape, I vote” are great ways to help draw attention to our cause going forward.
What do you think about Kroger and Walgreens’ decision to stop selling vapor products? How has the current hysteria surrounding vaping impacted you? We’d love to hear from you in the comments below, don’t forget to like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter to receive all the latest vaping news!
(Image Credit – Pixabay – https://pixabay.com/images/id-1232944/)