Apple has purged its App Store of 181 vaping apps, citing a rash of recent reports about vaping-related injuries and deaths.
Vaping-related apps will no longer be allowed on the service, Axios first reported. Apple confirmed to Gizmodo that users who have downloaded vape apps will still be able to use them and transfer them to new Apple devices. In a statement, Apple said that it has updated its App Store guidelines to include language barring apps that encourage the use of vape products.
“We take great care to curate the App Store as a trusted place for customers, particularly youth, to download apps. We’re constantly evaluating apps, and consulting the latest evidence, to determine risks to users’ health and well-being,” Apple said. “Recently, experts ranging from the [U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] 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. 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.”
Apple’s new App Store review guideline now prohibits apps encouraging “consumption of tobacco and vape products, illegal drugs, or excessive amounts of alcohol,” apps that encourage the use of those substances by minors, and any apps that facilitate “the sale of marijuana, tobacco, or controlled substances (except for licensed pharmacies).”
Apple said it has not approved any new vaping apps for inclusion in the App Store since June after it added vape products to a list of things that are barred from being promoted through the service. While Apple said it has never allowed vape cartridges to be sold through the App Store, the apps available for download included things like store apps, games, news, social media, and apps that allow a user to control settings on their vaping devices.
A number of prominent vape companies have apps that were previously available in the Apple App Store. Cannabis vape-maker Pax, for example, has an app for controlling vapour and flavour output, temperature, locking the device, and firmware updates. That app has been scrubbed from the service. Juul, meanwhile, has an app for its Juul C1 device available in Canada. That app is exclusively available on Android, but job listings appeared to indicate the company was exploring an iOS app.
A Pax spokesperson said in a statement to Gizmodo that the company is “very concerned and disappointed that Apple has made the decision to remove our app from its store,” adding that its app allowed millions of users in the 34 states where cannabis is, to one degree or another, legal, “to ensure dose control and correct temperature of their tested, legally purchased cannabis.”
U.S. Federal regulators have found that the vast majority of vaping-related illness and death are linked to black market THC vapes—not e-cigarettes. Pax argues that its app help users avoid dangerous products, not the other way around.
“Additionally, in the wake of the vaping illnesses, our app provides consumers detailed information about what is contained in their product, including results of state-regulated testing and compliance, terpene and cannabinoid profiles, and other information that enables the educated, informed and safe consumption of legal cannabis,” the Pax spokesperson concluded.
Juul did not immediately return a request for comment.
It’s not clear whether Google will follow suit, and the company did not return our inquiry about its plans. Should it decide to ban these apps, however, it would throw a wrench into at least one of Juul’s ideas for keeping its products out of the hands of kids by requiring an age verification app to unlock them. That would mean it’s back to the drawing board, folks.