Saturday, January 10, 2009

French government bans advertising of cell phones to children

French government bans advertising of mobiles to children

New limits will be placed on radiation levels amid fears of increased risk
of cancer from phone use

By Geoffrey Lean, Environment Editor
Sunday, 11 January 2009

New laws cracking down on children's use of mobile phones are to be
introduced in France amid growing fears that they may cause cancer and other

All advertising of the devices to children under 12 is to be prohibited
under the legislation – announced by the Environment Minister, Jean-Louis
Borloo, last week – and he will also take powers to ban the sale of any
phone designed to be used by those under six.

The French government will also introduce new limits for radiation from the
phones and make it compulsory for handsets to be sold with earphones, so
that users can avoid irradiating their heads and brains. And one of the
country's largest cities last month started an advertising campaign to
discourage the use of the phones by children.

The clampdown represents the most comprehensive action yet taken by any
government worldwide. It contrasts sharply with the stance of British
ministers, who have largely ignored the recommendations of an official
report nine years ago that people aged under 16 should be discouraged from
using mobiles, and that the industry should be stopped from promoting them
to children. Since then their use by the young has almost doubled, so that
nine out of 10 of the country's 16-year-olds own a handset.

Swedish research indicates that children and teenagers are five times more
likely to get brain cancer if they use the phones, causing some experts to
predict an "epidemic" of the disease among today's young people in later
life. But consideration of the threat to them has been specifically excluded
from Britain's official £3.1m investigation into the risk of cancer from

The French ministry warned that "mobile phone use is increasing at a rapid
pace among youths", and warns that the young may be "more sensitive because
their bodies are still developing". Children's heads are smaller and their
skulls thinner.

Lyon, France's second city, launched an advertising campaign before
Christmas aimed at dissuading people from buying mobiles for children as
presents, with the slogan "Let's keep them healthy, away from mobile

A year ago France's official Agency for Environmental and Occupational
Health Safety said that parents should not give small children mobiles. And
France's Health Ministry urged using them in moderation.

The French legislation is the latest evidence of growing official alarm at
the hazards of the radiation caused by mobile phone use. In September, the
European Parliament voted 522 to 16 to urge ministers across Europe to bring
in stricter radiation limits, and the European Environment Agency has also
issued a warning.

Toronto's Department of Public Health has advised that children under eight
should only use mobiles in emergencies and teenagers should limit calls to
less than 10 minutes. The Russian Ministry of Health says that young people
under 18 should not use the devices, and Israel's Health Ministry has also
advised caution.