The BMJ Today: The glass ceiling, upcoming elections, and big tobacco

As I look around our open plan office, towards where our editor, Fiona Godlee, sits, it would seem that the glass ceiling has been shattered at The BMJ. But, in her personal view, Medicine still needs feminism, Helena Watson argues that there are “legions of feminist issues still left to fight.”

Wikipedia tells me that the fourth wave of feminism has now broken (and it’s good to use Wikipedia, says Lane Raspberry in his feature explaining why the US based Consumer Reports group decided to engage with it). And it’s not just a western phenomenon. Anita Jain, The BMJ’s India editor, regularly blogs on particularly acute issues women face on the subcontinent—and one would hope that the issues surrounding rape would be at the forefront in the upcoming elections.

What the upcoming elections should hold has been covered in a feature from Jeetha D’Silva, who asks some of India’s movers and shakers for their thoughts on the key healthcare issues that need to be tackled, and one of the areas the respondents agree on is child and maternal health.

As smoking bans, plain packaging, and taxation reduce rates of smoking in the west, it is markets like India where the big tobacco companies now make their profit. “Bring me the atlas!” were the first words of James Duke, founder of British American Tobacco, when the cigarette-rolling machine was invented. You can read how the tobacco industry leveraged political power in the US to ensure its free trade in the emerging economies in Krishna Chinthapalli’s fascinating observations column—Exporting disease, disability, and death. It makes for sobering reading; in China  86% of 5-6 year olds recognise cigarette brands, but only 20% of their parents know that smoking is a risk factor for stroke.

We stay with child health as the topic in the latest video abstract to be published on The research discussed is whether the probiotic Lactobacillus reuteri can help infants with colic. The answer is a little, which is also the answer to the question of whether vitamin D reduces mortality  You can read more about both these studies in accompanying editorials, and in Richard Lehman’s ever popular weekly blog, where he rounds up the latest research from the five big journals. Richard, a GP from Oxford, isn’t shy of taking on the often clinically useless pharma funded regulatory trials that appear in the literature.

Duncan Jarvies is multimedia producer for The BMJ.