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Friday, July 2, 2010

Warning labels for cell phones.

I have nothing sexy for you people on this one. So let’s ignore the distracted driver problem and talk about tumors instead. (Excluding those way late to the issue.) Because of the growing number of countries in agreement/not in agreement over radiation produced by cell phones (and a few states here), Congressman Dennis Kucinich has proposed warning labels for cell phones despite what the FDA is saying. (Warnings for terrorist cells or cell phones; we love our warnings.) It raises a big question though: How would the FCC be able to regulate something it admitted caused cancer? Hello class action from angry consumers, if not against the government, then the industry at large.

Then there’s the issue of getting the word out. People won’t be moved to do anything or believe there’s a problem because they can’t see one. (They can with distracted driving and the increase in accidents.) But with cancer, you’re telling them about brain tumors without direct cause and effect evidence. If you look at the efforts against tobacco, this actually parallels the challenges the anti-cell use movement faces.

Warnings on packs said the same thing, sometimes graphically. The truth campaign depicted the physical effects of cancer. Along with lawsuits against industry, those things eventually can work to counter the decades of messaging that said smoking was not only cool, but healthy. But what it doesn’t work on are those addicted to nicotine.

With phones though, Addicted might be the right way to approach this. People are encouraged to be an always-on, always-wired 24/7 society, and have linked their work lives with their personal ones, but their behaviors aren’t necessarily unlearnable. It’s still gonna be hard for them to switch to a headset based on what a study says.

Then there’s another wrinkle: What about the growing use of smart phones in your hand to view things? I’m no oncologist, but tell me how the radiation emitting from a phone is lessened just because you hold it in two hands vs. next to your head? This would affect toy companies betting on new ways to reach out to younger audiences and depending on phones to do it.

We need to do something, if for no other reason than to eliminate this guy in our lifetime.


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