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Kid's Mobile Phone Ads 'Irresponsible'
BBC News
Journalist: Helen Biggs
September 04, 2001

Advertising campaigns to encourage children to buy mobile phones are "irresponsible", according to Sir William Stewart, who led a working group investigating mobile phone hazards. Speaking at the British Association Science Festival in Glasgow, he said mobile phones should be more expensive to discourage children from using them.

There were around 40 million mobile phones in circulation in the UK, he said, but he would not let his own grandchildren use them.

"I would be supportive of mobile phones costing more to discourage kids' use," said Sir William, the president of the British Association.

He said advertising campaigns to encourage children going back to school to buy mobile phones along with their pens and pencils were "irresponsible".

"It's generally agreed that children are the most susceptible group with regard to damaging radiation coming out of mobile phones," he said.

Phone masts
Sir William said more mobile phone masts, expected for the new third-generation (3G) mobile phones, should reduce exposure to low levels of radiation.

He said: "The more base stations you have, the less radiation comes out of the phone and there's less radiation associated with the head.

"Mobile phone technology is not going to go away.

"Masts are going to be a feature of the future and we should get used to the idea that there will be masts, that they should be smaller and they should be less obtrusive."

Brain tumours
Alisdair Philips, chairman of the pressure group Powerwatch, said 3G phones were "inherently safer" because they emitted a constant stream of signals. But he said more research was needed into possible long-term effects.

A Swedish study had shown a rise in brain tumours among people using mobile phones for two hours a day for five years or more, he said.

The research had been submitted for publication in a scientific journal, he added.

A survey conducted by the pressure group Powerwatch has shown that 85% of children aged 10 to 15 in England, Scotland and Northern Ireland have mobile phones.

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