Companies Are Sidestepping Apple’s Ridiculous Vaping-App Ban
Vaping Industry Adapts To Unreasonable Prohibition
In 2019, the Center for Disease Control famously flubbed its way through a health scare initially misattributed to nicotine vaping. While many researchers quickly identified an additive used as filler in illicit cannabis vapor products as the culprit, their findings went ignored for months, and hysteria ensued, creating a public perception that all vapor products are risky or harmful despite evidence to the contrary.
In response to this hysteria, Apple announced a blanket ban on all vaping-related apps. Despite no reasonable basis for doing so, the company modified its terms of service to prohibit any apps “encouraging or facilitating the use of” vapor products.
This does at least fall in line with Apple’s prior history of pulling or banning apps that the company has deemed “controversial,” although their basis on exactly what that constitutes remains controversial in and of itself. In 2017, the company had previously stopped accepting new vaping-related apps or approving updates for existing ones.
In response, vapor device manufacturers have begun creating clever workarounds for the ban so that Apple users are still able to conveniently enjoy the full functionality of their devices. These companies argue that users should be in charge of their own health and that companies shouldn’t interfere with that based on unfounded fears.
In November 2019, Apple announced changes to its App Store Review Guidelines that would ban all vaping-related apps, alongside the removal of over 180 apps already on the store. “We’ve updated our App Store Review Guidelines to reflect that apps encouraging or facilitating the use of these products are not permitted,” Apple said in a statement. “As of today, these apps are no longer available to download.”
The ban came following a political and media fervor caused by misinformation regarding lung injuries that were initially misattributed to nicotine vaping but ultimately found to be caused by an additive used in black-market cannabis vapor products. While vaping companies attempted to speak out and work with Apple to resolve the prohibition, these attempts have largely fallen on deaf ears, and the ban remains in place.
As such, vaping companies have taken some interesting and creative steps to work around Apple’s unreasonable prohibition targeting their products. Companies such as Storz & Bickel, manufacturers of the famous Volcano vaporizer, have created web-based apps that utilize Bluetooth functionality found in third-party browsers.
These apps restore accessibility and functionality to these devices that were previously locked out due to Apple’s restrictions. Vaping manufacturers argue that these apps give users more control over their own health by allowing them to assess their consumption and regulate their usage.
The hysteria surrounding vaping that lead to Apple’s aforementioned ban may have had greater public health implications than previously imagined. In a report commissioned by Public Health England and carried out by King’s College London, researchers found the misguided concern that vaping is more harmful than smoking began to circulate following reports of these outbreaks. The authors note that this belief is out of line with the current scientific consensus surrounding vaping and that such views may actively be preventing adult smokers from considering vaping as a viable alternative or cessation option.
Harm reduction experts and public health scholars have repeatedly spoken out against blanket bans that target vaping. In an article published in the journal Science, these groups banded together to speak out against such prohibitive policies, noting that there is currently no evidence that vaping is harmful and that these policies only end up forcing smokers back toward tobacco or black market alternatives.
These groups note vaping’s remarkable efficacy as a smoking cessation aid and tool. An example is research published in the New England Journal of Medicine, which found that vaping was more effective than other nicotine-replacement therapies in helping adults quit smoking and remain tobacco-free.
Not only is vaping an incredibly effective smoking cessation device, but it is a proven reduced harm alternative to tobacco as well. Studies from Public Health England and the Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center each found that vaping is 95% and 93% safer than smoking, respectively.
Apple’s ban targeting vaping-based apps is yet another demonstration of the ignorance surrounding vaping. Such misguided efforts not only impact the companies creating these apps but public health at large.
Not only had Apple banned apps that controlled vapor devices, but completely innocuous apps that allowed users to monitor their vaporizer and other nicotine usage. People simply looking to monitor their nicotine consumption on Apple devices were no longer able to do so, based on little more than misinformation that had grown into full-blown panic.
Members of the larger vaping industry and community need to stand in solidarity with these manufacturers. Companies such as Apple need to understand the public health benefits that these apps can provide current and former adult smokers throughout the globe.
What are your thoughts regarding Apple’s ban on vaping-based apps? Do you feel they’re unreasonably targeting vapers looking out for their own health? We would love to hear from you in the comments below, be sure to like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter to receive all the latest vaping news!
(Image Credit – Pixabay – https://pixabay.com/images/id-1080528/)