Apple’s War on Harmless Vice…Is Wine Next?

I found 5 different apps at the Apple App store that promote marijuana. 

I found 3 different Grand Theft Auto apps in the Apple App store that promote….well…everything.

I found NarcoGuerra in the Apple App store, which allows you to “try taking control of a cartel”.

I found WeedTycoon in the Apple App store, which allows you to…become a Weed Tycoon.

However, I learn today that Shaken Communications’ (Wine Spectator) “Where To Smoke” App has been banned from the Apple App store because it “promotes the use of tobacco or nicotine-related paraphernalia, including but not limited to cigars, cigarettes, pipes, hookahs, or e-cigarettes.”

This is, of course, a political decision made in the guise of a policy/health-related decision. It is also likely a reflection of the fact that the cigar lobby isn’t too strong these days.

But it makes you wonder, at what point does Apple ban all alcohol/wine-related apps?

There is of course very little rhyme or reason to what Apple decides is good for its users and not good for its users, as well as what is good and bad for society. I’m particularly intrigued by the app currently available in the Apple App store called Ugly Meter. It allows you to scan a picture of a friend and determine exactly (on a 1-10 scale) just how ugly they are. You have to ask yourself, why is Apple willing to allow face shaming in their App store.

The wine industry has always been one or two bad Secretaries of Health & Human Services away from seeing its marketing efforts strictly curtailed. But it begins when the monopolists and industry giants take their own shots.

Marvin Shanken, head of Shanken Communications wrote this: “This is David against Goliath, and sadly this time Goliath is the winner. It’s an assault on free speech and capital enterprise. It’s discrimination against cigar smokers—plain and simple.”

He’s right.


2 Responses

  1. Bill McIver - November 16, 2017

    Health Nazis are baaackk!

  2. Rick Breslin - November 17, 2017

    Putting aside Apple’s right to reject any app for any reason, the “Apps that encourage consumption of tobacco products” restriction was added to the App Store guidelines in June 2017: https://imgur.com/6J5Ukfa

    I’m sure the marijuana apps are next to go, as the guidelines clearly prohibit apps “facilitating the sale of marijuana.” However, maybe this will change after January 1, 2018.

    Shanken may be able to challenge the rejection by referencing other “tobacco finder” apps, like this one: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/tobacco-finder/id1090761193?mt=8

    In fact, maybe this is a matter of semantics. The title of Shanken’s app is “Where to Smoke” which clearly encourages the use of tobacco products with the verb “smoke.” Changing the name of the app to “Cigar Lounge Finder” may satisfy the App Store requirements by no longer *encouraging* any behavior, but instead, simply listing locations of cigar-friendly locations.

    Regarding alcohol apps, the “encourage … excessive consumption of alcohol” and “encourage minors to consume alcohol” restrictions have been in the App Store guidelines since implemented in 2010, (ref: https://www.cultofmac.com/58590/heres-the-full-text-of-apples-new-app-store-guidelines/). Speaking for Hello Vino, we’ve always adhered to the alcohol advertising regs established by the FTC and Wine Institute, which Apple may be using as a model. It seems apps acting as guides or content references, rather than encouraging behavior, will satisfy the requirements of the App Store guidelines.


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