The Israeli parliament is considering requiring all cell phones sold in Israel to carry a health-hazard warning label. The bill passed a preliminary reading last Wednesday and, if passed, will require phones to carry labels reading:
‘Warning – the Health Ministry cautions that heavy use and carrying the device next to the body may increase the risk of cancer, especially among children.’
All advertising targeting children would also be banned under the law.
Israeli member of parliament Dov Khenin said “The bill that passed today is a breakthrough in expanding public awareness of the possible risks in using cellular phones.”
In November 1998, UK campaigners tried to force retailers to put warning labels on mobile phones in a legal action but the evidence was not strong enough at that time: Dr Christopher Busby, Visiting Professor in the Department of Bio-Molecular Sciences in the University of Ulster and expert witness in that case said today: “The proposed labelling of these devices by Israel’s government is a welcome development and I hope our government will follow suit.”
MobileWise is urging the UK government to adopt similar measures. Our director, Vicky Fobel said “The UK is falling behind other countries, many of which are taking steps to inform the public of the potential risks, and how they can protect themselves. Children in particular need to be informed of safety steps. The Department of Health has had a safety warning for 11 years but it is hidden away and children and families don’t know about it”
As well as the latest move in Israel, other initiatives abroad demonstrate a growing recognition of the mounting evidence:
- San Francisco’s city government recently passed regulations requiring phone retailers to give customers a leaflet containing safety advice but the phone industry has mounted a legal challenge.
- In France, mobile phones are banned from primary schools, all phones must be supplied with a headset and advertising targeted at children is banned. The government has initiated a safety information programme through its National Institute for Prevention and Health Education.
- In Canada, the country’s public health service has issued new guidelines over children’s mobile phone use which include practical advice for under-18s on how to reduce exposure to radiation