Gottlieb has long been an advocate for tobacco harm reduction, penning a 2013 article for Forbes on the subject. In it, he called out the blind rejection of reduced-harm alternatives: “Would [tobacco] critics accept the proposition that any tobacco-based product could pose less risk, even if it were formulated into a nonsmoked consumable?”

A similar position was expressed in Gottlieb’s public statements around the July 2017 extension of the deeming deadlines and move to reduce nicotine in cigarettes.

“A key piece of the FDA’s approach is demonstrating a greater awareness that nicotine—while highly addictive—is delivered through products that represent a continuum of risk and is most harmful when delivered through smoke particles in combustible cigarettes,” Gottlieb said. “We need to make sure we strike the right balance between FDA fulfilling its vital consumer protection role while also fostering innovation when it comes to potentially less harmful forms of nicotine delivery.”