• 30 JUL 08
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    #920: Endangered Profits – translated from The Marker

    Translated from Hebrew by Iris Atzmon:


    The Marker/ Haaretz 29.7.08

    The radiation is dangerous to the companies’ profits / Amitai Ziv and Nurit Rot
    Despite the indifference the companies tried to demonstrate after the health ministry warning,
    analysts estimate that there may be a decrease in the number of minutes of calls during the next quarter. Lawyer Asaf Posner expects an increase in lawsuits against the cellular companies and says they will have to publish warnings. “The position of the health ministry and Dr. Sadezky is not new” said the companies
    “and also the recommendations to precautious use of the cellular”. The companies spokes persons take advantage of the warning in order to claim the known claim: “the more antennas, the less radiation from the phone”. But it seems the companies have a reason to fear. The rate of children who are the warning target among cell phone users is very big: 15% of the cell phone users are 9-18 years old.
    The companies have programmes for the children for example a route of “coming back from school”
    of cheaper rates for calls during the period between school lessons between 9:00 -14:00.
    “The meaning of the data is that if there will be real anxiety among the parents it can significanly damage the companies. “In my opinion” said analyst Eran Yaakobi, “the position published by the health ministry will have an effect for one or two quarters, especially on the level of call minutes” “Today one can hear more people saying ‘I speak less on the mobile'” he says. “In the medium-long term we will forget about the warning becuase we like to be connected to the cellular and talk”. The influence of the warning is depended on the question whether additional studies will be published that will support the health ministry’s position.

    Are lawsuits on the way?

    Lawyer Asaf Posner expert of medical negligence and civil law, expects that the warning will bring lawsuits.
    “I assume the lawsuits will claim that the companies did not warn us- not in general and not on private basis
    against over-use, with the assumption that they had to know about such a link between caner and cell phone use”. Posner says these lawsuits will be similar to the lawsuits against the cigarette companies.
    With one difference- the cellular has an important social place and it depends on how much damage the consumers are ready to absorb in order to enjoy its benefit.
    He thinks that the companies need to publish a profits warning to investors.
    He thinks many litigations are expected on this subject.
    Posner does not foresee class actions against the companies but private lawsuits claiming for
    having tumors as a result of cell phone use. he says that also the lawsuits against the tobacco companies
    were not class actions but on private basis. Because in class action the problem is to prove that all the people who got sick belong to the same group, because not everyone talked the same number of hours on the mobile, not everyone got sick in the same cancer and not everyone had the same information about the risk. With regard to private cases, Posner says that the main difficulty is that cancerous tumors can show up also in people who don’t talk on the cellular. So the question is if the plaintiffs can prove that the cancer was caused by the increased talk in cellular. But he says that maybe compensations will be given also to people about whom it was not proven that the got sick because of the cellular use.
    The court will have to discuss first whether in view of the scientific information that the cellular companies had during recent years there was a reason to fear from the dangers that are linked to the use of cellular phones.
    If it is proven to be the case then the lawsuits against the companies will be that they did not warn the consumers. But even if not, the companies will have the responsibility to warn everyone who buys cellular phone on the dangers, and to inform the consumers that if they speak alot on the cellular phone they have to do medical check ups. Posner says that the companies take a very big risk if they don’t warn the consumers, and they also need to publish warnings on private basis – for example that the use is forbidden under a certain age, and the radiation level in each phone.

    In Partner company they admit: “radiation is a dangerous thing” / Amitai Ziv and Bar Hayun
    The cellular companies reported a slight increase in the number of calls to the
    service center following the health ministry’s warning. But they said they didn’t notice
    slower sales or decrease of cell phone use. The representative in Partner who answered
    clients calls was conclusive: “try to speak less” said to one of the callers “radiation is a dangerous
    things”. In addition she repeated the health ministry’s warning, with the recommendation not
    to talk in poor reception areas. The companies said all phones stand in the Israeli standard which is
    more rigorous than the WHO standard.

    – A family consultant is interviewed to the newspaper in order to guide parents not to do extreme
    actions of hystery, for example not to take immediately the phone to the child suddenly.
    The solution, she says – is to do a cellular diet- not to stop suddenly because the children and the parents cannot implement it, but to have discussion with the children without causing panic and demand from the children to reduce their use.

    – Radiotherapist/ oncologist (the same one who said on the radio yesterday that there is no scientific basis for the warning and that non-ionizing radiation cannot damage DMA) answers today to worried questions on the Yedioth Ahronot newspaper’s website, and each answer sounds like coming from the throat of the cellular companies

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