(FiveNation.com)- On Monday, Walmart confirmed that it will be discontinuing sales of cigarettes in select stores in the United States.
The Wall Street Journal, which first reported the news, said Walmart is planning to pull cigarettes from the shelves in some stores in Arkansas, California, Florida, and New Mexico.
In 2019, Walmart joined the panic over vaping and discontinued the sale of electronic cigarettes in both Walmart and Sam’s Club locations in the United States. The decision was prompted by claims that vaping products may have been linked to some illnesses and a handful of deaths.
Cigarettes are linked to far more illnesses and death than vaping products ever caused. Yet Walmart kept cigarettes on the shelves while banning vaping products.
The company has not specified why it made the decision to remove cigarettes from select locations. However, some of the stores have introduced more self-checkout registers. According to the Wall Street Journal, cigarettes will be replaced by food or candy at checkouts.
Multiple sources report that Walmart’s move may be linked to the retailer’s decision to expand its healthcare and pharmacy business.
Walmart isn’t the first major national retailer to discontinue cigarette sales. CVS Health pulled cigarettes from stores in 2014. At the time, CVS anticipated that it would lose an estimated $2 billion in annual revenue from pulling tobacco products from its shelves. However, its overall revenue has grown every year since, in large part due to a number of acquisitions and changes to its stores.
Walmart is the world’s largest retailer, earning $120.13 billion internationally in 2021 alone. The retail giant operates more than 5,000 stores in the United States where it employs 1.6 million people.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, cigarette smoking continues to be the leading cause of preventable disease, disability, and death in the United States. More than 480,000 deaths every year, or one in five deaths, are caused by smoking.