The App Store, Apple’s digital distribution platform, has removed 181 vaping related apps from its mobile store. Apple has never permitted the sale of vape cartridges from any of its available mobile apps. However, the store carried apps that allow users to control their vape pens or e-cigarettes as well as apps for vaping news, games and social networks. The removal of all 181 vaping related apps occurred on the morning of Nov. 15, but Apple has been planning this move since June when it ceased accepting new vaping related apps. App Store patrons will no longer be able to download vaping related apps to their mobile devices. That is unless they have previously downloaded the app. In this case, the user can continue using the app, update it and install it on new devices.
Plans to take this action arose from the heightened concern of negative health effects from vaping and 42 reported deaths that have occurred from vaping related lung illnesses. Under the App Store Safety Guidelines, Apple strives to uphold the promise, “When people install an app from the App Store, they want to feel confident that it’s safe to do so—that the app doesn’t contain upsetting or offensive content, won’t damage their device, and isn’t likely to cause physical harm from its use.” Furthermore, it states, “If your app behaves in a way that risks physical harm, we may reject it.” Currently, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is concerned about the growing use of vaping products. Unfortunately, there is a lack of research and long-term studies on the health effects of e-cigarettes.
Currently, Google Play does not appear to have plans to follow in suit. Their platform continues to host hundreds of vaping related apps and is accepting new submissions. Google has yet to issue a response to the media on its stance with this public health issue. As the CDC advances efforts to research and provide the public accurate information, time will only tell if other e-commerce giants will take note and regulate the availability of retailers and applications. What we do know is that for the government to enact federal regulations on vaping, the FDA must process rules through a “notice-and-comment rulemaking process” to deem regulation, according to The Association of American Medical Colleges. For the time being, it is up to individual digital distributors to decide whether they will permit the sale and use of vaping related apps.
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