San Francisco moves to require cellphone warnings

ADVERTISEMENT
The board must vote on the measure again next Tuesday, and then it will go to Mayor Ed Lee for his signature before it becomes law. Lee supports the bill, the San Francisco Chronicle reported Thursday.

The ordinance, sponsored by city Supervisor John Avalos, would require retailers to provide to everyone who buys a cellphone a factsheet about the potential dangers of cellphone use and methods to reduce health risks. 

San Francisco passed a similar law last year requiring retailers to disclose the specific absorption rate (SAR) on each cellphone. 

SAR is the maximum amount of radiation that a phone can emit, which varies from phone to phone. Manufacturers are required to register SAR rates with the Federal Communications Commission.

CTIA, a wireless trade group, sued the city, arguing the requirement would mislead consumers to think some phones are safer than others.

The Board of Supervisors dropped the SAR requirement from the latest version of the bill. 

Vince Chhabria, a deputy city attorney, said he expects CTIA to file another lawsuit against the new law, but he questioned the legal merit of further challenges.

“Any further action would fall into the give-me-a-break category,” Chhabria said.

CTIA, however, continues to oppose the new legislation. 

“During these difficult economic times, it is inconceivable that Supervisor John Avalos and his colleagues on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors would pass an unnecessary yet harmful ordinance that potentially opens mom-and-pop cellphone retailers to civil liability for forgetting to distribute a mandated brochure," said John Walls, vice president of public affairs for CTIA. "In addition, the ordinance misleads consumers by creating a negative perception of a product that already complies with federal standards and is deemed to be safe by the FCC and FDA.”