"Because of the ever-increasing epidemic of youth e-cigarette use that has been fueled by flavors that include mint and menthol, we implore the Administration to finalize a compliance policy removing all unauthorized, non-tobacco flavored e-cigarettes from the market immediately", a group of 27 Democratic lawmakers, led by Senator Chris Murphy, said in a letter to US Health Secretary Alex Azar on Wednesday.
The lawmakers who wrote to Azar noted that in the past year, e-cigarette use has increased by more than 75 percent amongst high school students, largely fueled by the appeal of products with flavors like those of candy and fruit.
"Nearly two-thirds of youth that use e-cigarettes use mint and menthol products", the group said.
They also reminded the Trump administration of its promise to address the epidemic, saying the Food and Drugs Administration (FDA) was even "reportedly considering" exempting mint- and menthol-flavored e-cigarettes from the proposed ban.
"As delays persist and President Trump continues to play politics with public health, e-cigarette use among children continues to increase with no signs of stopping", the letter added.
Azar said in September the administration was preparing to ban flavored e-cigarettes after the FDA issued a warning letter to Juul Labs Inc., a manufacturer of such products, for allegedly "marketing unauthorized modified risk tobacco products" targeted even to youth at a school.
The scientific community is divided over the clear link between the using e-cigarettes and dozens of deaths and more than a thousand cases of lung injuries.
Dr. Simon Cotton from the University of Birmingham says there is no credible data showing that vaping is the reason for the death of e-cigarette users.
"I don't know if you can connect it in recent years with a more health-conscious attitude, something that may or may not be the case, but vaping has been promoted in the last 10 years or so as a way of giving up conventional tobacco smoking. I think vaping has been around for maybe 20 years", she says.
Dr. Brandon Larsen, a surgical pathologist at Mayo Clinic Arizona argues that lung biopsies of 17 people afflicted with vaping-related illnesses were likely caused by “direct toxicity or tissue damage from noxious chemical fumes".
As of 22nd October, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported 34 deaths and 1,604 cases of lung injuries related to the use of e-cigarettes. However, the exact causes of the respiratory illness are still under investigation as over 800 Americans have fallen ill after using THC and/or nicotine vape cartridge, according to the CDC.