There are a lot of things that might be dangerous. People take risks every time they go for a ride in a car, shovel their driveways or decide what to eat for lunch.

But, for the most part, the government leaves it up to us to manage that risk and drive, shovel and eat as much as we think we need to.

Some members of the Legislature would like to break with this tradition, however, and require the manufacturers of cell phones to label their products sold in Maine with a warning that they could produce cancer.

Cell phones do emit radiation and radiation causes cancer, but studies of the link between brain tumors and cell phone use have been determined to be inconclusive by the Food and Drug Administration.

That’s not the same thing as saying that there is no link, but it should be seen as reason for more study, not a reason to scare people.

Not surprisingly, the cell phone industry feels the same way and is fighting to stop the bill that would make Maine the first state in the nation to require warning labels on cell phones.

Consumers are most likely to associate the warning labels they might see with the surgeon general’s advice on cigarette packages and advertising. The two situations are not the same.

While there are unproven anecdotal allegations about the threat posed by cell phones, there are decades of hard data that prove that smoking kills people.

A warning label that puts the two products in the same category, even if the cell phone warning is couched in tentative language, would do a disservice to consumers, not protect them.

It’s enough to tell people that the allegations are out there, and while the research continues, its up to them to manage the risk.


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