e cigarette stores, the biggest retailer in the US, are closing in the wake of an unexpected surge in US deaths linked to the inhalation of second-hand e-cigarettes, including those from Big Tobacco’s Camel e-cigarette.
Big Tobacco, which manufactures some of the world’s most popular e-liquids, including Camel, is seeking to block any new restrictions that could hurt sales, while e-cig manufacturers and health experts warn that the US ban could stifle innovation in the booming industry.
The ban was approved by Congress last year, but has not been fully implemented by the Trump administration, leaving many companies and consumers scrambling to find alternative options.
The US has the third-highest tobacco consumption in the world, behind Japan and China, and the vast majority of smokers use the devices to inhale nicotine.
Big tobacco wants to restrict the availability of the devices, which they claim are safer and less addictive than traditional cigarettes.
Big retailers are among the largest users of e-cigs, with more than 1.3 billion e-liquid units sold last year and more than 400 million e-juice sold online.
Big companies including Walgreens and Target, along with smaller retailers, have struggled to meet demand for the products and have faced legal battles over their sales and safety.
Last week, Walmart and Rite Aid announced they were closing all of their stores in the United States, and Target announced it would close its U.S. retail locations.
The decision was announced after the American Lung Association, which represents some of Big Tobacco industry’s biggest players, released a report detailing what it described as a “very serious health crisis”.
Walmart and Target have argued that the ban is needed to prevent other retailers from getting in the way of their sales.
But some experts, including former federal prosecutors, have warned that it would undermine efforts to curb e-smoking and other smoking-related diseases.
Some health experts have warned the ban could be a “game-changer” that could slow innovation in e-colas, the most popular electronic cigarette.
The Trump administration has already said it will look at other possible measures, including a ban on flavored e-vapor products.