Hopefully, no one was planning on hitting up the iOS store this weekend to download an app for their vaporizer. Apple has announced that it has removed all vaping-related applications from the platform, though you’ll still be able to use yours or download it again if it’s already on your phone.
The move is in reaction to a vaping-related health crisis that has seen thousands of cases of severe lung injury that appear to be tied to vaporizers. Across the U.S. and Canada, state and local governments have taken steps to curtail access to certain kinds of vaping products, which were already under fire due to soaring rates of teen vaping.
Apple has never allowed apps that facilitate the sale of vaporizer cartridges on its platform, but until this summer, it did host applications that controlled users’ vape product features like their temperature, as well as others that included vape-related content. The company ceased allowing new apps in these categories, however, in June.
The current ban affected 181 apps, which were removed from the iOS Store on Friday morning.
Tech Giant Joins Chorus of Anti-Vaping Advocates
“Experts ranging from the CDC to the American Heart Association have attributed a variety of lung injuries and fatalities to e-cigarette and vaping products, going so far as to call the spread of these devices a public health crisis and a youth epidemic,” an Apple spokesperson told Axios. “We agree, and we’ve updated our App Store Review Guidelines to reflect that apps encouraging or facilitating the use of these products are not permitted.”
As would be expected, anti-vaping advocates were pleased by the announcement. “By taking e-cigarette related apps off the App Store, Apple will help reduce youth exposure to e-cigarette marketing and discourage youth use of these products,” commented Matthew L. Myerss of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. “Apple is setting a welcome example of corporate responsibility in protecting our kids.”
Among the latest steps taken by authorities to limit vape usage was Massachusetts’ Cannabis Control Commission, which announced this week that it was quarantining all vaping products except those that are used with flower.
Those actions have not been without their pushback. Hundreds of protestors have descended upon Washington, D.C. for events geared towards speaking out against the ban on flavored vaping products that had been forecasted by President Trump’s administration two months ago.
Such controversy seems to have given Trump cause to second-guess the ban. At a recent Senate committee hearing, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar refused to say whether the federal prohibition on the products would be finalized.
Solutions to the vaping health crisis have confounded authorities, though the crisis itself has had surprising medical breakthroughs. This week Detroit’s Henry Ford Health System managed to perform a double lung transplant on a person suffering from vaping-related lung injury, which at last count had affected over 2,000 people in the United States.
Another research breakthrough in the health crisis may have taken place earlier this week when the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced it had found Vitamin E acetate to be the cause of the vaping-related lung injuries. The same conclusion was reached by the New York Department of Health back in September.