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EWG, Public Citizen Seek Court Backing for S.F. Cell Phone Radiation Law

Monday, November 5, 2012

The Environmental Working Group and Public Citizen have asked the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit to support a San Francisco law that would require cell phone retailers to distribute a consumer safety fact sheet to customers explaining the potential hazards of cell phone radiation.

San Francisco enacted the law in 2010 after scientific studies suggested a possible link between long-term cell phone use and serious health problems, including brain cancer. The law requires cell phone retailers to provide customers with a one-page fact sheet that discloses basic information about potential risks from cell phone radiation and ways to reduce exposure.

CTIA-The Wireless Association, the cell phone industry's leading trade group, sued San Francisco to stop enforcement of the measure, arguing that it violates the First Amendment and is preempted by federal law. EWG and Public Citizen filed a brief in support of the law with the Ninth Circuit last February, asserting that the law complies with the U.S. Constitution and federal law and that the fact sheet would provide consumers with balanced, accurate and valuable information about how to use cell phones safely.

Last September, a three-judge panel for the Ninth Circuit ruled for CTIA, declaring the law unconstitutional. In an appeal, San Francisco petitioned the court for a review by an 11-member panel of judges from the Ninth Circuit.

On October 24, EWG and Public Citizen filed a brief in support of San Francisco's petition for rehearing, asserting that the case is about far more than just cell phones. The three-judge panel ruled that the government could not compel companies to make disclosures about potential safety issues associated with cell phone use because the health risks are not yet fully known. EWG and Public Citizen contend that this interpretation of the law threatens the authority of federal, state and local governments to protect consumers' health and safety through mandatory product disclosures. Given the broad implications of the panel's ruling for consumer protection laws and public health, the brief submitted by EWG and Public citizen fully supports San Francisco's petition for rehearing.

The brief is available here.


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