By B.N. Frank
We Went Through This Already with Big Tobacco. Where There is Smoke, There is Usually Fire.
There’s a lot of “He Said, She Said. They Said” going on right now with Cell Phone Radiation announcements, research, and warnings.
Last week Popular Science editor, Sophia Bushwick, took some shots at the CA Department of Health’s announcement and brochure.
This seems bizarre because the CA DOH wasn’t the first to announce research, advisories, or warnings about cell phone and wireless radiation. There’s been research since the 1970s that has proven harm. Some of this research was funded by the U.S. Government. Some was funded by Motorola. Many media sources have reported this over the years.
In 2011, The World Health Organization issued a report that cell phone and wireless radiation was a Class 2B Possible Carcinogen. Comedian, Stephen Colbert seemed to make sense of it.
Most of us love technology – including cell phones and other wireless devices. Unfortunately cell phone and wireless radiation isn’t magic or fairy dust. It’s microwave radiation – like what cooks food in a microwave oven. Current laws and regulations regarding new technology are over 20 years old and based on outdated research. They do not apply to how most technology is being used today which is pretty much almost all the time. Still the laws and regulations remain the same.
Back when new technology was introduced, cell phones and cell phone minutes were really expensive so they were used sparingly. Since making all of this so affordable, we are constantly exposing ourselves to microwave radiation – like what cooks food. There is credible research that says this is harmful though not everyone will be harmed exactly the same way or to the same degree (here, here, and here).
We went through the same thing with Big Tobacco. They had medical professionals promote cigarettes as being healthy starting in the 1930s (see links at end of article). Eventually they weren’t allowed to do that anymore. In 1964, they were forced to put warnings on cigarette packs. It made some impact but many still smoked – including doctors who smoked while they treated patients. Smoking doctors were featured in TV shows and movies. The 1978 movie, Coma features Michael Douglas as a doctor. He and other medical professionals smoke inside the hospital lobby.
I know a U.S. Army veteran who served overseas in the early 1970s. He didn’t smoke before he was drafted. He told me that the Army provided soldiers with free cigarettes. Smokers were allowed to take breaks and non-smokers were not. He knew about the warnings but he wanted to take breaks. He said the saying, “Smoke ‘em if you got ‘em” originated in the U.S. Military. Wikipedia says so also.
Big Tobacco managed to keep us not terribly concerned about smoking for a couple more decades. Smoking was allowed in designated spaces in most places including health care facilities and schools.
But we’ve come a long way, Baby. Or have we? Even after class action lawsuits and settlements were made a decade or so ago, this “War on Tobacco” wasn’t really over. Big Tobacco still paid lawyers for 11 years to appeal the court’s decision. In November 2017, they finally had to stop.
Follow the Benjamins and you’ll find many organizations receive funding from the Wireless Industry. This includes the American Cancer Society.
Lawmakers have received donations from this industry as well. Here’s the breakdown on that, complete with pie charts and tables.
We can wait for experts to all agree that cell phone and wireless radiation is harmful and start shouting it from the rooftops. Or we can keep in mind that old saying – “Where there’s smoke, there’s usually fire.” Same as it ever was.
Incidentally, one EMF activist sent an email to Ira Faltow, host of the NPR show, in re the Sophia Bushwick interview last week, referred to above. His response is indicative of how important it is for each of us to reach out and engage.
Thank you for your thoughtful email. This is a very important issue which we take seriously.
I am told by the NIEHS that final results of the NTP rodent cell phone radiation study will be available in early 2018.
At that time, we will revisit the issue in depth.
You may listen to a past episode of Science Friday from 2011, when we discussed cell phone radiation for more than 20 minutes in an interview with Dr. Nora Volkow, Director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse at the NIH. She spoke about her study published in JAMA linking cell phone radiation and brain activity. She expressed caution about using cell phones in that interview. She is the highest ranking scientists in a federal government position to publicly do so.
Links with old cigarette ads featuring doctors. Old commercials may be found on YouTube.
Time.com: “Your Doctor Wants You to Smoke” display of vintage cigarette ads in the New York Public Library.
New York Times: “When Doctors, and Even Santa, Endorsed Tobacco”
New York Times: “In Old Ads, Doctors and Babies Say Smoke”
CBS Sunday Morning: “Outrageous Vintage Cigarette Ads”