H-E-B will no longer sell e-cigarettes at any of its stores. The Texas-based grocery store chain said vaping products were removed from all stores last week.
“At H-E-B, the safety of our communities and the well-being of all Texans is our top priority. Due to the unknown health implications of vaping, H-E-B immediately discontinued the sale of e-cigarettes last week,” said company said in a statement.
It is the latest retailer to stop selling the controversial smoking devices.
In late September, Walmart announced it will stop selling electronic cigarettes at its 5,000 U.S. locations when it sells out of its current inventory. The ban also includes Sam’s Clubs. The company reports it will also stop carrying cartridges and pods used in the e-cigarettes.
Walmart said the move is due to “growing federal, state and local regulatory complexity” regarding vaping products.
E-cigarettes work by heating a liquid to produce an aerosol that users inhale into their lungs.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said the liquid can contain: nicotine, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabinoid (CBD) oils. THC is the mind-altering compound of marijuana that produces the “high”.
According to the CDC, at least 12 people have died of vaping-related illnesses in the United States, and so far more than 800 others have become ill from using e-cigarettes.
The agency says the vast majority of the patients are males and most of them are 18 to 34 years old, but some of those who have become sick are young teenagers.
The Texas Department of State Health Services says 75 of those suffering from severe lung disease are in Texas and the agency is gathering information on 34 other cases possibly tied to vaping.
DSHS says seven cases of vaping illnesses have been reported in the Rio Grande Valley, which for the state agency encompasses 19 counties in far South Texas.
State health officials says about a third of the cases in Texas involve teens, and like the national statistics, the majority of the patients are males and almost all of them had to be hospitalized.
The DSHS says it is working with the CDC, the Food and Drug Administration and other states to determine what the cases have in common and determine a cause.
Vaping cases in Texas
Panhandle – 0
North Texas – 37
East Texas – 3
Southeast Texas – 16
Central Texas – 5
South Texas – 3
West Texas – 2
Rio Grande Valley – 7
Undetermined – 2
Source: Texas Dept. of State Health Services