In the fortnight between the Journal's publication of a draft version of the public health green paper (see News and News Focus, 22 January) and the official launch of Our Healthier Nation last week (see News, page 9), some of the language changed, but little of the substance.

However, to the broad welcome the Journal gave the green paper, albeit with caveats about the robustness of the four new targets and the absence of targets on health inequalities, it is now necessary to add a further rider relating to the government's position on water fluoridation.

When the draft was prepared, it was the sole outstanding question still with ministers. And sadly, they have ducked the challenge. Despite all the evidence that fluoridation cuts tooth decay, all we are offered is a further review of the legal position. A handful of individuals obsessed with non-existent issues about compulsory medication and an equally small number of health-risk scaremongers have been able to delay an important public health measure across whole swathes of the country for too long. The white paper must promise something better.