Multinational retailer Walmart has indicated that it will soon cease to sell vapor products. Although CNN characterizes the corporation’s decision as, “another setback for the vaping industry,” there’s good reason to see it as just the opposite.
Walmart cited “regulatory flux” as the impetus for the decision, saying in a statement provided to the media:
“Given the growing federal, state and local regulatory complexity and uncertainty regarding e-cigarettes, we plan to discontinue the sale of electronic nicotine delivery products at all Walmart and Sam’s Club US locations. We will complete our exit after selling through current inventory.”
Sidebar: Business Insider reports that though the multinational Walmart will no longer carry comparatively less harmful vapor products on its retail shelves, deadly traditional combustible tobacco products are there to stay.
In fact, as distasteful as it may be to some, we can actually turn to one of the groups fighting against vaping to discover why removing vapor products from Walmart’s shelves might actually be a good thing for vapers:
“The 2015 National Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance (YRBS) survey of high school students in grades 9–12 found that 12.6percent of current smokers aged <18 years had directly purchased their cigarettes from stores or gas stations, with nearly one-sixth (16.5%) of all twelfthgradesmokersaged <18 yearsmaking such direct purchases.”
So it seems that — far from a “setback” for the vaping industry — the divorce between general-admittance retailers such as grocery, pharmacy, and convenience stores and vapor products may prove to be an effective and compelling way to eliminate or at least strongly diminish juvenile access to vapor products. Considering how thoroughly the problem of underage vaping has been weaponized against adult vapers and vapor businesses, this is equivalent to taking ammunition out of the hands of vapers’ opponents.
A combination of limiting sales of vapor products to 21-and-over retailers such as dedicated vape shops, combined with age verification compliance enforcement, would go much farther toward snuffing out youth vaping while simultaneously safeguarding the consumer freedom of adults than flavor bans would. It gives every appearance of being at once the smartest and most responsibly minimal strategy government can enact.
Far from a setback, Walmart’s decision to divorce itself from vapor products may have been the biggest favor the retail giant could have done for vapers and for the future of the vaping industry.