Gottlieb has also called for the need of scientific evidence to support reduced-harm claims for e-cigarettes and vaping products. But the difference is, he has also laid out an official pathway to examine those claims.

In December, Gottlieb co-authored a paper with two other FDA officials announcing the formation of the Nicotine Steering Committee. The group is tasked with “re-evaluating and modernizing the FDA’s approach to development and regulation of nicotine-replacement therapy products that help smokers quit,” including new and potentially reduced-harm tobacco products.

While the paper didn’t specifically state that the group would evaluate e-cigarettes as a viable nicotine-replacement therapy, it did call out the public debate that 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 that can be sold as new drugs, typically as over-the-counter pharmaceuticals.”