Personal views from University of Bath researchers on the news of the day

More women than ever are taking up running

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📥  Heath Science & Technology

In the run up to the London Marathon, Professor Simone Fullagar from our Department of Education, speaks to our team about gender differences and barriers to women’s participation in sport, and why running has developed into a highly popular sport for women.

“In the past few years more people have taken up running in the UK, Australia and European countries like Denmark, and this includes more women. Running has become popular with women for a range of reasons connected to the gender context of everyday life. Running can be fitted in around routines of home and work, it can be solo or social, competitive or a means of keeping fit, reducing stress and engaging with others. Running is also a way of carving out time for oneself in a society that still expects women to put the needs of others first.

“The growth of running events – from several miles to long marathons – has created a broader range of cultures that are more inclusive of diverse running identities. One doesn’t have to be super fit, hyper competitive or wear body hugging Lycra to be a runner – although those pressures still exist.

“Women compete in large scale events like the London Marathon for a range of reasons that include a sense of achievement through testing their embodied limits, in the memory of someone close to them (raising funds for charity) and sharing the experience alongside others. The ’spectacle’ of mass running events is also produced through social media images and stories that position women in the public eye – we all bear witness to the pain and pleasures, commitment and capacity of those who run.”

Are you a women who enjoys competitive running? What attracted you to the sport? Are you taking part in any races this year - if so, good luck from all of us here!


Reaction to Sir Cyril Chantler Review on standardised packaging

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📥  Public Policy

Sir Cyril Chantler has today delivered his independent review of the public health evidence for standardised ‘plain’ packaging. His conclusions are unequivocal. Sir Cyril is “persuaded that branded packaging plays an important role in encouraging young people to smoke.”

Having reviewed all the available evidence, Sir Cyril believes that “standardised packaging would serve to reduce the rate of children taking up smoking and implausible that it would increase the consumption of tobacco.”

main_plain-cigarette-packagingAlthough his review focussed on the health benefits of standardised packaging, Sir Cyril is “not convinced” by the tobacco industry’s argument that plain packaging will increase illicit cigarettes. He points out there is “no evidence” that standardised packaging is easier to counterfeit, and that in Australia, “hardly any counterfeit standardised packaging has been found to-date.”

Andy in our press team has spoken to Dr Jenny Hatchard in the University's Tobacco Control Research Group and the UK Centre for Tobacco & Alcohol Studies (UKCTAS) to get her reaction to the announcement.

Commenting on the review and its policy implications, Jenny said: "
The Chantler Report has concluded that branded packaging plays an important role in persuading children to smoke, and he dismisses the counter arguments on illicit put forward by the tobacco industry”.

Dr Hatchard adds: “Our own research has exposed how the tobacco industry has misrepresented evidence on standardised packaging and generated misleading press stories about how it will lead to an increase in illicit trade. We hope the Coalition Government will now move ahead with tobacco packaging regulation as part of its wider strategy to reduce the serious harms to health caused by tobacco products.”

Top headlines:

How big tobacco turns profits, The Conversation

Tobacco firms hype smuggling fears, The Guardian

Tobacco firms fight cigarette smuggling, Wall Street Journal


Clegg and Farage rematch on EU membership

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📥  Public Policy

This week our press team has placed Bath experts in a wide number of news and radio show outlets to discuss the first Clegg vs Farage debate, exploring issues related to the UKs membership of the European Union and Euroscepticism.

imgresDr Susan Milner from our Department of Politics, Languages and International Studies told The Conversation that "most commentators agreed that Nigel Farage won round one of the Clegg vs Farage debates – if only on points. The UKIP leader was able to convey a clear message that the UK is marginalised in the EU and largely unable to influence policy, both strong themes in British public opinion. He also tapped into concerns about immigration from poorer member states. 

"On the other hand, Farage looked very uncomfortable when challenged on some of his claims about the scale of immigration and the British contribution to the EU budget, and appeared too intransigent in his approach to EU legislation as an acting MEP." 

Speaking about the use of debate to explore issues, Dr Nick Startin told BBC Radio Wiltshire that "TV debates are becoming part of the modern political process. Having a debate like this where you get the arguements quite starkly from two different perspectives allows the public to get a better feel for the whole European question. This is a fairly new method, our first real taste of it was during hte general election debates of 2010, and my sense is that the British public are getting a taste for it."

Dr Startin also mentioned the role played by social media, with thousands tweeting and blogging (like us!) on the back of the debate. Did you watch the first debate - and will you watch the second? You can follow general discussion about the debates on social media platforms using the hashtag #NickvNigel.