Killer cell phones, Part 3: Enemy of the state

Proposed state legislation adds new spark to the debate on cell phones and cancer

Just when you thought it might be safe to go back to your cell phone, along comes more information to further fuel the fires of controversy over the possible health risks of the mobile devices.

Maine state Rep. Andrea Boland, a Democrat, recently put forth LD 1706 (HP 1207), “An Act to Create the Children’s Wireless Protection Act.” OK, before we get into the content of this, I have to ask — we need an act to create an act? If you can just go ahead and make the one act, why use it to make the second one? You could save a step and just make the second one. Yes, I know — legislation isn’t that simple, and the two uses of the word ‘act’ probably have different meanings. Just sayin’.


Related stories:

Is your cell phone trying to kill you?

Attack of the killer cell phones, Part 2


Anyway, this act, if enacted, will require a warning label to be put on all cell phones sold in Maine. The label will say, “WARNING, THIS DEVICE EMITS ELECTROMAGNETIC RADIATION, EXPOSURE TO WHICH MAY CAUSE BRAIN CANCER. USERS, ESPECIALLY CHILDREN AND PREGNANT WOMEN, SHOULD KEEP THIS DEVICE AWAY FROM THE HEAD AND BODY.”

The act has been in committee since January, and will come to a vote in the next week.

Now, putting aside the issue of whether they are correct in their stance that cell phones could cause all of that, will this warning label actually curtail cell phone use? I believe the answer to be, no way. Look at cigarettes. We in the United State have had some sort of warning label on cigarette packages since the mid-60’s, and yet millions of Americans still smoke. Only recently, when there have been crackdowns on targeted advertising, smoking bans in public areas, and the development of pharmaceutical aids to help people quit has the percentage of smokers begun to taper off.

So maybe what we need is for someone to develop a cell phone patch. Now there is a potential Nobel Prize if ever I saw one.

While I was looking around for other state-based cell phone legislation, I discovered that only six states plus the District of Columbia have laws against handheld cell phone use while driving. And Maine is not one of them. Maybe that’s what they should be legislating.

About the Author

Greg Crowe is a former GCN staff writer who covered mobile technology.

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