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Product safety: getting tough or being nice?
  1. I B Pless, Editor

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    For a long part of its history, injury prevention in childhood has been almost synonymous with home safety, and that, in turn, is largely a matter of concern about the safety of products. Pioneering work by our honorary editors among others often involved calling attention to the dangers of various products and urging the authorities to take action. Sometimes this involved educating the public, sometimes it required setting safety standards, and occasionally stiff regulation was needed.

    In keeping with this theme, this issue includes some unusual elements. First, there is the Special Feature—a superb overview of the topic by Farquhar, based on the presentation he gave at the ISCAIP meeting in Amsterdam. The feature examines various aspects of product regulation through the eyes of someone who is, by heart and training, a consumer advocate. But like so many in the product safety field, his position with the European Union also requires good judgment and a degree of inventiveness. All are needed to achieve the tricky balance between protecting the safety of consumers, especially children, and satisfying the demands of a myriad of government bureaucracies.

    A second unusual element is the link between the feature and this issue's Classics. I chose two papers on children's sleepwear flammability and the use of safety standards (313 and 317).1, 2 This choice was easy because I learned so many useful lessons about the politics of advocacy from this example. I watched while groups in the US struggled to bring this to the attention of Congress and then became involved in a similar, …

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