Smartphones teach youth smoking
The "iSmoke Free" app let you smoke a virtual cigarette on the screen of your smartphone. This can smoked by taking puffs. When you inhale deeply near the microphone of the smartphone, then the cigarette glows and becomes shorter.
The "iSmoke" app is also not unique. There are more than 100 similar different programs and little apps. These apps are popular nowadays and make smoking cool hip and back. You also have games such as "Puff Puff Pass smoking" where you score points by pulling as much as possible on the virtual cigarette.
The apps not only reduce the threshold, they also teach users how to smoke. The better the visual quality, the greater the effect on the user.
The Cancer Foundation is shocked. According to them, the apps are illegal as they are in fact advertising cigarettes. Consequently, the government should prohibit them as soon as possible.
The government should take action
According to the tobacco inspection at the Federal Public Health, there is not much to do: "If someone promotes smoking in general, we can't do anyhing that falls under the right to freedom of speech". Moreover, it is practically difficult to find out who has made the apps. Also the creators are often foreigners.
Many anti-tobacco organizations disagree. According to them, the government should not track the companies behind the apps, but force the app stores to ban them.
Apple vs. Android
With android censorship is in practice very difficult because the apps are not checked when they are published. The spokesman of Google, the company behind Android, also refers to the terms and conditions governing the app developers must comply. It contains clauses about hate, violent and sexual content. There are no clauses on cigarettes or addictive products, so the company can not and will not do anything.
With Apple, censorship is easier because this company must approve every app before it can be launched. The Apple spokesman did not comment yet why Apple approves all the 'smoke' apps.