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The city Board of Supervisors voted in favor of a settlement on Tuesday

The city of San Francisco has lost the right to place warnings about cell phone radiation levels in its retail stores.

San Francisco was the first U.S. city to pass an ordinance that required retailers to warn consumers about cell phone radiation before they made the purchase. However, the city lost a court battle with the Cellular Telecommunications Industry Association (CTIA) -- which is comprised of companies like AT&T, Verizon, Samsung and Apple -- and will now lift the ordinance from city retailers.

The city Board of Supervisors voted in favor of a settlement on Tuesday, where San Francisco agrees to drop the ordinance. In exchange, the CTIA will waive its claims for attorney fees that would have amounted to about $500,000. 

"I am for pushing the envelope on something as important as this, but I think the legal reality is such that if we do not approve this settlement, we're talking about having to pay half a million in legal fees," Supervisor David Campos said. "It's a very tough situation, but the last thing I want is to have the general fund give half a million dollars to lawyers in this case."

The ordinance went into effect in 2011, where retailers had to tell customers that gadgets like cell phones emit potentially cancer-causing radiation. The city even wanted to post that the World Health Organization (WHO) deemed cell phones "possibly carcinogenic," but a judge blocked this part of the ordinance, since WHO said more research was needed to back that claim. 

The CTIA filed a lawsuit against the city, saying that the ordinance violated the industry's First Amendment rights. 

A ruling in the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals last year said that San Francisco had to prove that scientists agreed with its claims about cell phone radiation. It also had to prove that the FCC no longer believed they were safe for consumers to use.

San Francisco decided to take a settlement offer in the end with the CTIA. 

Sources: NBC News, SF Gate

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RE: First amendment rights?
By Flunk on 5/9/2013 12:40:33 PM , Rating: 3
Because the "possible dangers" have no basis in science. There is no proof at all that they are even remotely dangerous and the FCC regulates the maximum safe radiation output of all cell phones so even if they were it's not up to a city to police this.

RE: First amendment rights?
By Motoman on 5/9/2013 12:45:17 PM , Rating: 3 does that mean they can't post information about the dangers of chemtrails either? What about getting autism from vaccines? And I suppose they're going to be banned from distributing tinfoil hats to prevent the federal government from beaming thoughts into your head too.


RE: First amendment rights?
By Solandri on 5/9/2013 2:42:02 PM , Rating: 5
California passed prop 65 when I was in high school. It requires all businesses which use or house chemicals known to cause cancer or birth defects to post a warning about it for customers to see.

The result is that every store everywhere you go has a prop 65 sign, and everyone basically ignores it (except the sue-happy lawyers who make a living leeching money from companies that didn't know they need to also buy a $10 sign to do business in the state). I've always joked that every exterior doorway in every house needs the sign because sunlight is known to cause cancer.

Anyway, prop 65 passed because people thought that knowing was better than not knowing. Unfortunately they forgot to take into account that the threshold at which you're informed is just as important. Prop 65 dropped the threshold so low that the information it conveyed was useless. Same thing for RF from phones. They usually only emit a few milliwatts, with a max of about a watt (and that would only happens if you're barely picking up any signal, at the very lower threshold of 0 bars). If you require everything emitting less than 1 watt to have an RF label, so many things would be labeled that it's useless information.

RE: First amendment rights?
By BRB29 on 5/10/2013 7:26:53 AM , Rating: 2
They're not hiding anything. Other chemicals cause real health issues. Every study so far does not show any health issues except maybe super excessive use over decades. Your chances of receiving any health issues from phone radiation is magnitudes lower than being out in the sun.

RE: First amendment rights?
By LucyDoggie on 5/11/2013 9:07:19 PM , Rating: 2
Not true, BRB29!

The World Health Organization's panel of the top scientists from around the world reviewed all the studies to date. They determined by a vote of 29 to 1 to classify cell phone radiation as a possible carcinogen based upon an increased risk of brain cancer after 10 years of use for an average of only 30 minutes a day.

The majority of the published studies done independently of industry's funding DO show increased risk of brain cancer, reduced fertility, DNA damage, acoustic neuroma, malignant salivary gland cancer, etc. etc. etc.

We all love our cell phones and can't imagine life without them now. But, there are safer ways to use cell phones, especially for children - why is the industry suing San Francisco when all they tried to do was to mandate that cell phone retailers disclose the consumer warnings being hidden in all user manuals AND about safer ways to use cell phones, especially with respect to children?

What are they REALLY hiding?

RE: First amendment rights?
By ssobol on 5/9/2013 1:17:02 PM , Rating: 2
Doesn't the store (or store management) also have first amendment rights that let them post pretty much anything they want?

And while the radiation issue may be moot, you can very easily prove that cell phones are very dangerous to the user and/or others when used improperly.

RE: First amendment rights?
By MozeeToby on 5/9/2013 1:31:43 PM , Rating: 2
"Let them" is very different from "force them".

Legally, the courts are ok with forcing cigarette companies (as an example) to post warnings because those warnings are backed by a huge amount of scientific data. The data on cell phone radiation risks is overwhelming in favor of their being no risk at all.

Forcing someone to say something, especially something that will cause them harm, especially something that is most likely untrue, is a violation of first amendment rights.

RE: First amendment rights?
By Motoman on 5/9/2013 1:32:54 PM , Rating: 2
An individual citizen (like a store owner) can always say pretty much anything they want, regardless of whether or not it's retarded.

If a store owner wants to post a sign saying "The earth is flat - deal with it!" then that's fine...they can be an idiot. The only kind of things that you don't have a right to say are things that cause an immediate sense of harm (or some sort of legalese roughly equivalent thereto) - you can't post a sign that says "Niggers and fags will be shot on sight" even if you want to claim later that it's a joke and you really weren't going to shoot anybody.

This ruling is about the city though - as a governmental agency, they can't just run around posting signs that don't convey factual information. The city can't post a sign that says "Vaccines cause autism" because not only is there no evidence to support that, but all available evidence actually invalidates the assertion. But Jenny McCarthy is free to promote the death and suffering of children by saying such things all she wants to, since she's just an individual citizen.

As for the "danger" of using something improperly - good luck with that. I would argue that a pencil is significantly more dangerous than a cell phone when used improperly.

RE: First amendment rights?
By Motoman on 5/9/2013 1:34:15 PM , Rating: 2
Oops...I think I downrated myself by posting with either or both of "n1gger" and/or "f@g."

RE: First amendment rights?
By Regs on 5/10/2013 4:39:36 PM , Rating: 2
Depends how long they want to stay in business. Merchants usually have strict implied warranties of merchantability which means the product will reasonably conform to a buyer's standards and it is suitable for sale.

And why on earth would a seller want to tell their consumer that the product they want to move out of inventory can cause cancer?

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