Health Canada won’t consider moving to ban or limit cell phone advertisements directed at kids – a move taken by other countries including France – even though the federal department suggests young people should cap mobile use.
Steve Outhouse, a spokesman for Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq, says the government has already issued precautionary advice to parents about children’s cell use but advertisers won’t face new rules.
“We provide information to Canadians and we let them make informed decisions,” said Outhouse. “We’d encourage all parents, if they’re considering purchasing a cell phone for their child, they should take time to look at Health Canada’s advice and talk with their children about how to use it responsibly.”
Outhouse says “all Canadians can make decisions on what they wish to do” regarding the use of cell phones.
In 2011, the World Health Organization’s cancer wing classified the radiation from all wireless devices as possibly carcinogenic. This classification put cell phone radiation in the same category as other possible carcinogens including DDT, lead and car exhaust.
“All of these (products), with the exceptions of cell phones, are subject to regulatory authority and controls,” said Dr. Devra Davis, an American scientist who runs the non-profit education group Environmental Health Trust. “You would never think of giving your child DDT or lead or jet fuel to play with, ever…this classification from an independent group should be taken very seriously.”
Davis is among a group of scientists who believe governments need to send a stronger message about cell safety to consumers because mobile companies are powerful and frequently direct ads at young people.
Research suggests kids could absorb twice the amount of radiation as adults because their bodies are smaller and their skulls are thinner.
If the Canadian government decided to change the rules for cellphone advertisers, it would fall under Canada’s Consumer Product Safety Act. The minister has power within this act to make regulations limiting advertising of risky consumer products.