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British Government to Order New Child Cell-Phone Restrictions

Aired May 10, 2000 - 2:05 p.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR: Teenagers love to gab on the phone, and in these high-tech days, that means cell phones. But tomorrow, the British government reportedly plans to order new restrictions on cell phone use by youngsters. New research suggests developing brains may be at risk from cell phone radiation.

Reporter Chris Choi of Britain's Independent Television News with more now.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CHRIS CHOI, ITN REPORTER (voice-over): There's to be an unprecedented new warning for children using mobile phones. The most rigorous scientific review ever conducted says parents should restrict youngsters use unless necessary. A 10-month government-backed inquiry says children could be most vulnerable to potential health effects.

Today the prospect of a new caution was welcomed.

IAN GIBSON, BRITISH PARLIAMENT MEMBER: They'll be some resistance, of course, from the phone companies. But indeed, until we have the hard evidence whether there are health effects, surely they would have to agree that we should be precautionary and take care.

CHOI: The mobile phone inquiry is also expected to recommend new curves on advertising directed at children. It'll demand more research into potential health risks and a tightening of planning rules on masts used by phone companies. No hazard from mobile phones has been scientifically proven, but government favors a precautionary approach, that reflects concerns that growing children, especially those under 14, could be most exposed.

PROF. BRIAN NEVILLE, GREAT ORMOND STREET HOSPITAL: We know that the skull bones, and to a certain extent the skin, are a little bit thinner, which is a theoretical reason for thinking that if there is a risk it may be greater in children.

CHOI: These are the first comprehensive phone safety guidelines for children, drafted by Edinburgh Council. Urging "essential use only," they're set to be repeated across Britain.

BRIAN FALLON, EDINBURGH CITY COUNCIL: You won't stop kids or people from using mobile phones: What you've got to make sure is that people take all the safety precautions they can. CHOI: But phones are a fashion youngsters may be reluctant to surrender.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'll probably keep using it because I'm used to it now.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If it damaged the brain, then I might realize that it's not the right thing to have. I might -- might consider not using it.

CHOI (on camera): Any new warnings could badly shake consumer confidence, and all this couldn't come at a worse time for the industry. It's about to launch a new generation of services. Now it also seems likely to lose a slice of business from a whole generation of its current customers.

Chris Choi, ITN, Central London.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

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