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Tuesday, October 22, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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News >  Business

Walgreens to pull e-cigarettes from 9,500-plus stores as feds investigate vaping devices

UPDATED: Tue., Oct. 8, 2019, 12:59 p.m.

 (Ross D. Franklin / AP)
(Ross D. Franklin / AP)
By Lisa Schencker Chicago Tribune

Add Walgreens to the growing list of retailers that have decided to stop selling e-cigarettes, amid state and federal investigations into illnesses surrounding the devices.

The Deerfield, Illinois-based pharmacy chain announced Monday it will remove e-cigarette products from its more than 9,500 stores nationwide as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, U.S. Food and Drug Administration and others look into the devices, Walgreens said in a statement.

A Walgreens spokesman declined to offer a specific time frame for removing the products from stores.

The decision also follows “developing regulations in a growing number of states and municipalities,” Walgreens said in the statement. Massachusetts has temporarily banned the sale of e-cigarettes and other states have announced bans on flavored e-cigarettes.

About 1,080 cases of lung injuries and 18 deaths related to e-cigarettes, also known as vaping, had been reported across the country as of Oct. 1, according to the CDC. It’s unknown exactly what’s causing the illnesses, but most patients reported a history of using products containing THC.

A number of other stores have also decided to pull the products from their shelves, including Walmart, Kroger, Costco Wholesale, Rite Aid and Dollar General. Competitor CVS Health has never sold e-cigarettes.

Many public health advocates have cheered stores’ decisions to stop carrying e-cigarettes, while vaping advocates blame the illnesses on illicit products and say many people rely on their products to help them quit smoking traditional cigarettes.

The Vapor Technology Association, an industry group, did not immediately respond to a request for comment Monday afternoon.

Walgreens has been criticized in recent years for continuing to sell traditional cigarettes, though competitor CVS Health stopped selling tobacco products several years ago. Walgreens announced earlier this year that it would no longer sell tobacco products to anyone under age 21 and it has made tobacco products less visible in its stores, but critics have said the changes don’t go far enough.

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