Apple on Friday said it is banning vaping-related apps from its App Store due to concerns that e-cigarette use can damage lungs or even kill people.
Apple vets what is allowed on the shelves of its virtual shop that serves as the sole outlet for apps available to its popular mobile devices, including some 900 million iPhones in use around the world.
"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 an a youth epidemic," Apple said in response to an AFP query prompted by an Axios report.
"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."
Apple has pulled 181 vaping-related apps from the App Store worldwide. Tobacco along with vaping cartridges were never allowed at the virtual shop, so the apps involved social networks, news, games, hardware or stores, according to the California-based company.
"We are grateful that Apple is joining with us and others on this historic day to stand against big Vape and their lies by removing all vaping apps in the App Store,” American Heart Association chief executive Nancy Brown said in a released statement.
"Our hope is that others will follow our lead and follow with their own powerful message that nicotine and nicotine addiction caused by e-cigarette use are leaving thousands sick and dying across the globe."
People who already have the now-banned apps on their Apple gadgets will be able to continue using them.
US President Donald Trump said this week that he plans to meet with vaping industry representatives as he considers whether to ban flavored e-cigarette products following a deadly epidemic of vaping-linked lung injuries.
Vaping, already criticized as a "gateway" to tobacco or other addiction, is facing unprecedented scrutiny amid a mysterious epidemic linked to e-cigarette use that has killed 39 and sickened more than 2,000 mostly young people in the US.