Cigarettes and mobile phones
July 25th 2008, 17:51 | Bryan Hubbard
Those of you old enough to witness the descent of the cigarette, from essential accessory for the sophisticate to Evil Incarnate, within two generations may be getting a sense of deja vu right now.
This time round it's the turn of the mobile, or cell, phone, which, over the past 15 years, has become the essential accessory for everyone who needs to tell everyone else everything you are doing at every moment.
Research has been quietly telling us that long-term mobile phone use can result in brain tumours, but these studies have usually been dismissed as the ravings of mavericks and madmen.
Despite this, UK government health officials have been warning us that children in particular may be especially vulnerable to radiation from the phones. Last week, Canada's health guardians voiced similar concerns, and this week the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute has warned faculty and staff to cut down on cell phone usage.
Others, including those in the pay of the mobile phone industry, continue to ridicule these concerns, but the doom-sayers are making a reasonable point. They are effectively saying: we don't yet know the long-term effects of persistent mobile phone usage, so it's better to be safe than sorry.
Cut to 40 years ago, and you can see a similar pattern over cigarette smoking. The manufacturers were even claiming that cigarettes were healthy, something that the mobile phone operators aren't saying, at least. The tobacco industry produced their own studies to 'prove' cigarettes weren't a health concern, something the mobile phone industry has also done.
It'll be interesting to see, if in 40 years' time, mobile phones are also banned from every public place, and each phone comes with a health warning.