In brief

BMJ 2010; 341 doi: (Published 16 November 2010) Cite this as: BMJ 2010;341:c6474

Male life expectancy is longer in UK than the European average: UK boys born in 2007 can expect to live 1.6 years longer than the average for the 27 countries of the European Union, show figures from the UK Office for National Statistics. However, UK girls born in 2007 can expect to live 0.3 years less than those in Europe. Female life expectancy at birth was 81.9 years in the UK (82.2 in the EU), while that for males was 77.7 years (76.1 in the EU).

Minimum alcohol price is defeated in Scotland: Plans to set a minimum price for alcohol in Scotland have been abandoned after the final defeat of the proposed legislation in the Scottish parliament. Despite strong support from health professionals, political support was insufficient to pass the measure into law.

Smoking ban reduces rate of preterm births: An aggressive ban on smoking in workplaces and public buildings in the small city of Pueblo (population 150 000), Colorado, found that the prevalence of smoking among pregnant women fell by 37% and the number of preterm births fell by 23%, shows a study presented at the annual meeting of the American Public Health Association. Neither of the decreases were seen in the surrounding county.

More UK children are surviving cancer: The number of children dying from cancer in the UK has fallen by almost 60% over the past 40 years, from 73.4 per million children between 1966 and 1970 to 31.9 per million children between 2001 and 2005, says Cancer Research UK. In the late 1960s less than a third of children with cancer lived for five years. Today the figure is almost eight in 10.

Date is set to review libel law: A draft bill to reform English libel law will be published in March 2011, the Ministry of Justice announced in its business plan. Ministers plan to consult until June 2011, amend the bill in the light of responses, and introduce it in parliament in May 2012.

Smoking ban is lifted in small Dutch cafés: The new Dutch health minister, Edith Schippers, has written to MPs confirming that the smoking ban in small, owner run cafés without staff will be lifted in part as a concession to the “social function” performed by such neighbourhood bars, many of whose customers may wish to smoke “just like in their own living room.”

Book on Lacks family wins award: The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, in which the author Rebecca Skloot explores the ethical implications of using human tissue for research, has won the £25 000 (€29 000; $40 000) Wellcome Trust book prize. The book tells the true story of Henrietta Lacks, a poor Southern farmer whose cancer cells were taken without her knowledge and used to culture the first “HeLa” cells, later used for developing the polio vaccine and other important advances.

MPs criticise children’s court service: The Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service (CAFCASS), which delivers independent reports for the courts, is “not fit for purpose,” the House of Commons Public Accounts Committee has said. With a 34% rise in its caseload after the Baby P case it has “failed to get to grips with fundamental weaknesses in its culture, management, and performance.”

More cases of polio are reported in Congo: The World Health Organization has received reports of 294 cases of acute flaccid paralysis and 97 deaths from the outbreak of polio in the Republic of the Congo. A three stage vaccination response is under way. Pointe-Noire, the country’s second city, where most cases have been seen, conducted the first round on 12 November, targeting three million people of all ages.


Cite this as: BMJ 2010;341:c6474

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