Apple is removing all vaping-related software from its official App Store, as medical experts warn about a rise in e-cigarette lung illness cases in the U.S.
A total of 181 impacted vaping applications—mostly centered around games, social networking services or news—will no longer be available to download from Friday, Axios reported. Anyone who has already downloaded the apps will still be able to use them, the tech firm said.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) say thousands of cases of a vaping-linked lung injury, known as EVALI, have been identified.
While Apple has never allowed the sale of e-cigarette cartridges via its App Store, it is no longer permitting software that encourages or facilitates their use.
The updated policy comes after the technology giant initially stopped accepting any applications that promote vaping products back in June, CNBC noted.
Apple did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Newsweek asking for additional information about the trove of applications which have been scrubbed from the platform. The exact list of apps remains unclear.
But an Apple spokesperson told 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.
“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 are no longer available to download.”
Medical experts are currently running a complex investigation into an “outbreak” of lung illnesses linked to vaping while releasing detailed weekly updates of their findings.
According to the CDC, a probe that is analyzing the dangers of vaping identified vitamin E acetate as a new “chemical of concern” among people with EVALI, which stands for e-cigarette, vaping product use associated lung injury. The chemical may be an additive in some e-cigarettes.
Recent testing of fluid from the affected lungs of 29 patients across 10 states found the vitamin E acetate in all of the samples. As of November 13, the agency says more than 2,100 cases of EVALI have been reported from 49 states. 42 people have died across 24 states.
The CDC warns: “People should not use e-cigarette, or vaping, products that contain THC, particularly from informal sources like friends, or family, or in-person or online dealers.
“Until the relationship of vitamin E acetate and lung health is better understood, vitamin E acetate should not be added to e-cigarette, or vaping, products.
“In addition, people should not add any substance to e-cigarette or vaping products that are not intended by the manufacturer, including products purchased through retail establishments. CDC will continue to update guidance as new data become available from this outbreak investigation.”