FILE PHOTO: The Kroger supermarket chain’s headquarters is shown in Cincinnati, Ohio, U.S., June 28, 2018. REUTERS/Lisa Baertlein/File Photo
(Reuters) – Kroger Co (KR.N) said on Monday it would stop selling e-cigarettes at its stores and fuel centers, making it the latest U.S. supermarket chain to take the step amid growing regulatory scrutiny of the product.
The company said it would discontinue sales after selling through its current inventory and cited “mounting questions and increasingly-complex regulatory environment associated with these products” for its decision.
Kroger’s move comes a month after Walmart Inc (WMT.N) said it would stop selling e-cigarettes and electronic nicotine delivery products at its U.S. stores. Amazon.com Inc (AMZN.O) had also said it would take down vape paraphernalia from its website.
E-cigarettes have been marketed as tools to help smokers quit, but rising use among youth in the United States and a spate of severe lung illnesses and some deaths tied to vaping have triggered a backlash and heightened regulatory scrutiny.
New York and Michigan have already banned the sales of flavored vaping products, while the Trump administration has announced plans to remove all flavored e-cigarettes from store shelves as officials warned that sweet flavors had drawn millions of children into nicotine addiction.
Up to last week, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported 18 deaths due to a mysterious lung illness linked to e-cigarettes and other vaping products and said the number of confirmed and probable cases of the condition now exceeds 1,000.
Reporting by Nivedita Balu in Bengaluru and Richa Naidu in Chicago; Editing by Anil D’Silva