Mitch Zeller, the longtime director of the FDA’s CTP, told retailers what many in the industry already suspected: The FDA’s new focus on harm reduction and the continuum of risk came from its commissioner.

“We spent time briefing [Gottlieb] on every aspect of the CTP,” Zeller said during a NATO-sponsored retail seminar in August. “He then pivoted to policy decisions … [to] reframe the debate, [moving] forward together with the new focus of nicotine addiction.”

“The debate for the last decade has been remarkably unproductive,” he told the group of 75 attendees. “A harm-reduction dialogue [may offer] common ground.”