by Daniel Fink, MD, Chair, The Quiet Coalition
Consumers want relevant information about products they buy, and warning labels work. That’s the message inherent in this New York Times report on food warning labels for salt, fat, sugar, and calories in Chile. Chile has one of the highest obesity rates in the world. With health care costs for obesity-related medical care soaring, the government decided to take action and began requiring black octagonal warning labels on the front of food packages. The laws also banned junk food sales in schools, and prohibited television ads for unhealthy food between 6 a.m. and 10 p.m.
Of course, the big multinational food companies who market candy, snacks, sodas, and fruit juices protested and lobbied against the legislation, but it passed and was signed into law.
Guess what? Junk food consumption is down 25% in Chile, and other countries are contemplating passing similar legislation.
I am convinced that if warning labels were required on personal listening devices and accessories like earbuds and headphones, people would use them less. I would suggest the following: WARNING: USE OF THIS DEVICE CAN CAUSE HEARING LOSS. But I’m sure other wording might be more effective.
It’s obvious that the device manufacturers, like the junk food vendors, don’t care about consumers. All they care about is profits. It’s up to governments to protect their citizens, as Chile has done. That’s their job.
Dr. Daniel Fink is a leading noise activist based in the Los Angeles area. He is the founding chair of The Quiet Coalition, an organization of science, health, and legal professionals concerned about the impacts of noise on health, environment, learning, productivity, and quality of life in America. Dr Fink also is the interim chair of Quiet Communities’ Health Advisory Council, and he served on the board of the American Tinnitus Association from 2015-2018.