LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Kroger and Walgreens are the latest major retailers to stop selling electronic cigarettes.

Kroger's Cincinnati-based company announced Monday that it will discontinue selling vaping products. In a statement, the company said, "Kroger is discontinuing the sale of electronic nicotine delivery products, or e-cigarettes, at all store and fuel center locations due to the mounting questions and increasingly-complex regulatory environment associated with these products. The company will exit this category after selling through its current inventory." 

Kroger has more than 2,700 stores and 1,500 fuel centers across the nation. The company also operates Ralphs, Harris Teeter and other stores.

Drugstore chain Walgreen also announced Monday plans to discontinue sales of e-cigarettes at its stores nationwide, citing an uncertain regulatory environment, The Associated Press reports.

Walgreens, based in Deerfield, Illinois, operates more than 9,500 stores in the U.S.

The retailers join Walmart and CVS in dropping e-cigarette sales. The move comes as the CDC links lung illnesses and deaths to vaping. As of Oct. 1, there were 1,080 lung injury cases reported from 48 states and one U.S. territory. Of these, 18 deaths have been confirmed in 15 states. All reported patients have a history of e-cigarette/vaping product use.

Federal statistics show vaping among teens had increased significantly between 2017 and 2018. More than 1 in 4 high school students reported vaping in the past month, up from 1 in 5 students in 2018 , according to the latest statistics.

E-cigarette use among middle school students also increased.

Federal health officials have called the trend an "epidemic," and fear teenagers who vape will eventually start smoking.

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