Apple Dumps Vaping-Related Apps Amid Public Health Crisis
A wave of deaths and critical media coverage of the vaping industry led Apple in June to stop accepting new vaping-related apps for its App Store. Today, the tech company went a step further, removing 181 existing vaping-related apps from the store.
"Recently, 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," according to a statement from Apple published in 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."
Users who have already downloaded the affected apps will still be able to use them.
Educators have been wary of vaping since it emerged as an electronic alternative to traditional cigarette-smoking. Concerns grew earlier this year when reports of vaping-related deaths surged, prompting the federal government to declare an epidemic and K-12 school leaders to strengthen anti-vaping policies and practices.
Smartphone apps that regulate vape lighting and temperature and offer vape industry news and social networking opportunities have drawn criticism from opponents of vaping. A recent poll from the nonprofit Common Sense Media found that a majority of teenagers regard vaping as "part of their daily lives."
In a statement to Education Week, James P. Steyer, CEO and founder of Common Sense Media, praised Apple's decision.
"All companies with vaping related content should exercise the same corporate responsibility toward reducing youth exposure to vaping," said James P. Steyer, CEO and founder of Common Sense Media.
The organization encourages educators to use one of its online lessons to teach students about media literacy using vaping as an example. "We need to create critical thinkers to ensure they are prepared to recognize persuasive tricks and deeper meaning of messages they encounter daily," Steyer wrote.