FILE PHOTO: An Alibaba Group logo is seen at an exhibition at the World Intelligence Congress in Tianjin, China on May 16, 201
(Reuters) – Chinese e-commerce company Alibaba said on Wednesday it will stop selling e-cigarette components in the United States, amid growing regulatory scrutiny and reports of lung disease and certain deaths associated with gunfire.
The move follows announcements from Kroger Co. and Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc this week that they would stop selling e-cigarettes in their stores, in line with a similar decision by Walmart.
Alibaba said it already had a long-standing policy not to sell complete e-cigarette products in the United States.
Vaping products have been linked to a mysterious lung disease that reportedly resulted in 18 deaths from last week, with the number of confirmed and probable cases of the condition exceeding 1,000, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Alibaba Group Holding Ltd said that lists for products such as box mods, vape pens, herbal vapors, heat not burning devices and empty pod cartridges would not be displayed to users in the United States.
While Juul Labs Inc dominates the North American pod e-cigarette market, many death and injury reports in the United States have been tied to provisional trademarks without identifiable owners.
The most prominent, Dank Vapes, was associated with 24 patients with lung disease, according to a study by the New England Journal of Medicine. The products contained THC, the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana.
Prior to the suspension, buyers could easily purchase units, component parts and packages from sites such as Alibaba or Amazon to make their own counterfeit weapons units.
Amazon.com Inc removed vape accessories in September, although it did not specify exact products that it removed.
Reporting by Josh Horwitz in Shanghai; Editing by Miyoung Kim and Richard Pullin