Discourse and policy making on consumer protection in the areas of mobile telecommunication and tanning
Keywords:health communication, health policy, mobile telecommunication, tanning
AbstractPerceived health risks from electromagnetic fields in mobile telecommunication and from UV radiation in tanning have become regulation issues in Germany during the last decade. Health risk messages from government expert bodies and the main stakeholders in these areas as well as subsequent consumer protection policy making are investigated. Publications and websites of government expert bodies and the main stakeholders as well as debates in Federal Parliament were analysed to compare argumentation patterns and parliamentary decision-making processes. In both areas, the public received competing health risk messages from the industries and their critics. As a government expert body, the Federal Office for Radiation Protection (BfS) held the view that alleged health risks from electromagnetic telecommunication were not proven, and propagated the precautionary principle. This opinion did not endanger the agreement of 2001 between the government and mobile telecommunication operators. After the failure to obtain voluntary commitment from the tanning industry, by contrast, the BfS recommended stricter consumer protection legislation, which was subsequently implemented. The BfS was in a key position to demand the prerogative of interpretation concerning mutually excluding health risk messages and to provide the argumentation which led the way to non-ionic radiation health protection measures.
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