Newsom has proposed an ordinance that all cell phones sold in his city be given a warning label similar to those placed on cigarettes.
Based on concerns that cell phones cause brain cancer, the proposal would require a label with the level of radio frequency emissions and specific absorption rate of the phone.
The problem: It’s just another example of Newsom’s feel-good, grandstanding types of ordinances that lack any actual substance or intelligent reason.
The ordinance would provide warning of a safety risk that remains scientifically unproven. Both the National Cancer Institute and the World Health Organization have opposed labeling because of beliefs that research does not support the need.
If enacted, this ordinance could unnecessarily expose San Francisco to considerable litigation costs and harm San Francisco’s business climate at a time that the city faces enormous budget deficits.
The deficit for San Francisco is at $550 million and the city is being forced to make drastic cuts in public safety, education and transportation. City workers will be met with furloughs, cutbacks and layoffs.
Looming would be numerous lawsuits on behalf of the wireless industry, heavy swinging retailers and a number of other businesses negatively impacted economically by the ordinance, citing federal preemption.
Attempts to regulate radio frequency emissions from wireless devices based on safety concerns may be preempted by federal law, constraining local governments to act in this area.
We’re not talking minor lawsuits, but tens of millions of dollars wasted by the city in a losing litigation battle.
San Francisco already victimizes local businesses with some of the highest business taxes in the nation; imagine the effect of this ordinance in adding another regulation to the retail world.
The wireless industry is a rare bright spot in today’s bleak economy and San Francisco has maintained a core place for innovation and technology. This proposal would quickly and dramatically stunt that continuous growth.
Let’s hope the local leaders in San Francisco can quickly toss aside this absurd ordinance so Newsom can quickly move on to whatever else “feels good” next.
James Spencer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org