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Exclusive: Apple to remove vaping apps from store

Demonstrators vape during a consumer advocate groups and vape storeowners rally outside of the White House to protest the proposed vaping flavor ban in Washington DC on November 9, 2019.
Demonstrators vape during a consumer advocate groups and vape storeowners rally outside of the White House to protest the proposed vaping flavor ban in Washington, D.C. on Nov. 9. Photo: Jose Luis Magana/AFP via Getty Images

Amid growing health concerns over e-cigarettes, Apple will remove all 181 vaping-related apps from its mobile App Store this morning, Axios has learned.

Why it matters: The move comes after at least 42 people have died from vaping-related lung illness, per the CDC. Most of those people had been using cartridges containing THC, though some exclusively used nicotine cartridges.

What's happening: The company has never allowed the sale of vape cartridges directly from apps. But there were apps that let people control the temperature and lighting of their vape pens, and others provided vaping-related news, social networks and games.

  • Apple has been headed in this direction since June, when it stopped accepting new apps that promote vaping.
  • Those who already have a vaping-related app on their iPhone will be able to continue using the app and install it on new devices.

Apple in a statement to Axios: "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."

  • "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."
  • "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 of today, these apps are no longer available to download."

What they're saying: Matthew L. Myers, president of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, said: "The Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids applauds Apple for taking this important step and doing its part to address the youth e-cigarette epidemic."

  • "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. Apple is setting a welcome example of corporate responsibility in protecting our kids."