Is the phone industry spinning while Rome burns?

Our report, released on Wednesday, was widely covered in the UK and international media. Some of the press called children’s mobile phone health risks a ticking “time bomb”. We think this sums up the situation presented in our report rather well.

Coverage of the report meant the media aired the long overdue debate over what should be done about phone health risks. Given that we won’t know for years whether phones are safe – and, as our report shows, the evidence is stacking up against them – shouldn’t we think about what we could be doing now, before it’s too late?

On Wednesday morning we were pleased to read in the Express that the head of the Mobile Operators Association (the UK phone industry body) thinks children should be discouraged from using mobiles too much. Great news!  We hoped the phone industry was going to get out there and tell kids not to keep putting phones to their heads and we could all go home and stop campaigning.

Predictably, they backtracked a few hours later in their official response which contained the usual defensive reassurance and certainly no mention of constructive action. Not a word about publicising government recommendations advising that children should limit their calls. Nothing about alerting the public to the industry’s own small print warnings suggesting customers hold the phone away from the head.

Instead, the Mobile Operators Association dismissed our report and the World Health Organization’s official panel’s judgement on the evidence with mealy-mouthed statements about the risk not having been established. Sure, the risk hasn’t been proven, but that doesn’t mean we should all sit on our hands.

This head-in-the-sand approach is reminiscent of the tobacco companies’ stance back in the 1950’s. Just watch an episode of Mad Men and spot the parallels. The risks from tobacco weren’t proven for about 30 years after cigarettes became widespread and the failure to act quickly resulted in millions of unnecessary deaths.

If only phone companies were as modern about their approach to health as they are in developing their products. It’s supposed to be the age of corporate responsibility, after all. We hope the phone industry will hurry up and join the 21st century, instead of acting as though they’re following a PR text book written in the 50s.

Read the report here

Read the media coverage about the report here.

Read more about the politics at

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