As further evidence that the agency could support innovative products that fall on the lower end of the continuum of risk, FDA Commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb co-authored a December article suggesting that electronic cigarettes could soon be included as FDA-approved nicotine replacement-therapy (NRT) products.

The article announced the formation of the Nicotine Steering Committee, saying the group will be “re-evaluating and modernizing the FDA’s approach to development and regulation of nicotine replacement-therapy products that help smokers quit.” It went on to acknowledge that public debate has surrounded “the potential for modified-risk tobacco products like electronic nicotine-delivery systems and e-cigarettes. FDA also sees compelling opportunities to explore additional opportunities for the development of new and improved products.”

This new group could go on to consider “changes to the labeling and indications for existing products … that might deliver nicotine at different rates,” in an effort to enact policies that are “more helpful in helping smokers quit combustible cigarettes.”