Apple said on Friday that it would ban vaping apps from its online store, affecting 181 apps in total.
The prohibition would affect apps that help people find vape stores or flavors, allow them to control their vape pens, or access games, news or social networks that promote vaping.
“We take great care to curate the App Store as a trusted place for customers, particularly youth, to download apps,” Apple said in a statement.
Apple said health authorities “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,” the company added.
Cases of vaping-related illnesses have been rising, with more than 40 deaths and more than 2,000 illnesses, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The C.D.C. has urged people to avoid vaping anything because the cause of illnesses still remains unclear.
Apple, which had already stopped in June accepting new apps that promote vaping, will now ban new downloads altogether. Apple users who have already downloaded the apps will be able to continue using them and transfer them onto new devices.
Apple’s decision was supported by the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. “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, said Matthew L. Myers, the president of the campaign.
News of Apple’s decision was first reported by Axios.