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Indybay Feature

San Francisco | Health, Housing, and Public Services | Front Page

Sun May 4 2014
Health Advocates Affix Health Warning Labels to Cell Phones in San Francisco Verizon Store
Sun May 4 2014
Repeal of 'Right to Know' Law Leaves SF Cell Phone Users In the Dark About Health Risks
Health advocates from the California Brain Tumor Association and Stop Smart Meters! affixed health warning labels on cell phones for sale in Verizon’s Market Street store in San Francisco in defiance of the wireless industry’s legal bullying of cell phone safety ordinances across the nation. Store management removed the labels but did not summon police, possibly out of concern that potential arrests may highlight a health risk the industry would rather keep quiet. Further embarrassing the company, one of its employees stuck one of the labels to his own phone in an apparent act of defiance against his employer’s suppression of health information regarding its products.

In 2011, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors unanimously passed a “right to know” law requiring cell phone retailers in the city to issue at the point of sale a fact sheet to each consumer including the World Health Organization classification and the manufacturer’s own language hidden in the phone or manual instructing phone users to keep phones 5/8 inch away from the body at all times when turned on. The Wireless Association (CTIA) sued the city (saying such “forced speech” represented a breach of the company’s First Amendment rights) and withdrew its annual conferences from San Francisco. According to then Mayor Newsom, “their behavior makes me even more concerned as to what they are hiding.” The City did not lose the lawsuit but under the leadership of tech friendly Mayor Lee the Board of Supervisors was coerced into repealing the law, leaving customers in the dark about the health effects of routine cell phone radiation exposure.

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