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Verizon, Cigarette Ads, And All Our Thanks

SNLS | March 11, 2019

By Patricia Burke

“Chemicals and fossil fuels are serving as the scapegoat for all of society’s ills, and being targeted by a generation of environmentalists promoting wireless and 5G connectivity as the solution for every challenge on the planet. What if we are wrong?”

SOURCE: Artwork by Floris Freshman

Remember the Tobacco Wars?

The Stanford tobacco advertising archive includes hundreds of ads, [1] including those aimed at children.[2]

SOURCE: Stanford

Before the tide of public and legal opinion turned toward recognizing harm caused by smoking, advertising agencies devised countless ways to deceive customers into believing all sorts of things about cigarettes, ranging from the idea that they represented manliness to the idea that they enhanced healthy digestion.

And when evidence of harm finally began to gain traction, the industry began to claim to that lower tar and nicotine cigarettes were safe, or safer, for consumers.

SOURCE: Stanford

Decades later, and after years of preventable illness and death, the courts are still determining who is entitled to participate in class action litigation, and who isn’t. Tobacco scientists are still making lucrative salaries for ensuring that the injured do not receive compensation.  For example, Phillip Morris prevailed in Ohio in 2014 in part because customers were not charged an extra payment for the “safer” cigarette option, and because the cigarettes themselves were not actually defective.  The legal opinion had nothing to do with whether the company misled consumers, or endangered their health. [3]

The 24-page decision is a nauseating example of the failure of the legal system to provide justice for consumers harmed by corporations that knowingly and willfully lie about safety.  It also serves a warning for cellphone and tablet users who are not aware of or who do not follow manufacturer’s warnings hidden deep within the fine print. [4]

The science-for-hire-to-deflect-liability regarding the impact of smoking on health remains fixated on only one significant outcome – lung cancer. The after-the-fact disease model now links mesothelioma to asbestos and lymphoma to glyphosate exposure.

These scenarios point to the risks of inadequate safety and health pre-market testing and monitoring, and to the harm of “research” conducted by the industry and its economic partners. In a David and Goliath fight, victims who have often been robbed of health, longevity, and financial resources are outmatched by the massive lucrative product defense industry.

Meanwhile, other adverse health outcomes linked with smoking were ignored for nearly a century. Anti-smoking education now identifies harmful impacts on nearly every organ system.[5]  And, one enduring overlooked adverse outcome may be the generation of children who had their tonsils and adenoids removed, or were prescribed cough suppressants or antibiotics or tubes for chronic ear infections.  Parents’ lifestyle choices including the use of pesticides and other household chemicals and chronic second-hand smoke exposures weakened children’s immune function and health resiliency. Rather than examining the environment, the drug industry was launched.

Verizon Wireless Super Bowl Sunday, First Responders, and Throttling

Like smoking, advertisements promoting wireless technologies now dominate the print media and airwaves, and one of the companies targeting the mass consumer culture is Verizon.

CNBC reported that “On February 3rd, 2019, the CBS broadcast of Sunday’s game between the Los Angeles Rams and the New England Patriots was watched by about 98.2 million people.[6]

The Super Bowl is also a platform for corporations to air highly coveted and highly expensive advertising spots. Among the offerings for 2019 was the Verizon ad honoring First Responders.


About Verizon Super Bowl 2019 TV Commercial, ‘The Coach That Wouldn’t Be Here: Anthony Lynn’

During Super Bowl LIII, Anthony Lynn visits a group of first responders to tell the story of the time he was saved. When he was younger, he was struck by a car going 50 mph and says if it wasn’t for the paramedics, firefighters and police, he wouldn’t be standing before them. The first responders who tended to Anthony were present during his speech. Anthony, eyes filling with tears, embracing the responders, says that he believes that they are guardian angels and thanks them.[7]

What may not be widely known by the viewing public is that, as reported by Ars Technica, and other outlets, in 2018 Verizon throttled a fire department’s data plan during a California wildfire. [8], [9], [10]

Verizon throttled fire department’s “unlimited” data during Calif. wildfire
Fire dep’t had to pay twice as much to lift throttling during wildfire response.

“County Fire has experienced throttling by its ISP, Verizon,” Santa Clara County Fire Chief Anthony Bowden wrote in a declaration. “This throttling has had a significant impact on our ability to provide emergency services. Verizon imposed these limitations despite being informed that throttling was actively impeding County Fire’s ability to provide crisis-response and essential emergency services.”

Bowden’s declaration was submitted in an addendum to a brief filed by 22 state attorneys general, the District of Columbia, Santa Clara County, Santa Clara County Central Fire Protection District, and the California Public Utilities Commission. The government agencies are seeking to overturn the recent repeal of net neutrality rules in a lawsuit they filed against the Federal Communications Commission in the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.

Throttling affected response to wildfire

“The Internet has become an essential tool in providing fire and emergency response, particularly for events like large fires which require the rapid deployment and organization of thousands of personnel and hundreds of fire engines, aircraft, and bulldozers,” Bowden wrote.

Santa Clara Fire paid Verizon for “unlimited” data but suffered from heavy throttling until the department paid Verizon more, according to Bowden’s declaration and emails between the fire department and Verizon that were submitted as evidence.


Verizon throttling also affected the department in a response to previous fires in December and June, emails show.

Bowden argued that Verizon is likely to keep taking advantage of emergencies in order to push public safety agencies onto more expensive plans.

“In light of our experience, County Fire believes it is likely that Verizon will continue to use the exigent nature of public safety emergencies and catastrophic events to coerce public agencies into higher-cost plans, ultimately paying significantly more for mission-critical service—even if that means risking harm to public safety during negotiations,” Bowden wrote.[11]

SOURCE: Ars Technica

The Santa Clara Fire Department complained of being throttled by Verizon Wireless for going over its monthly allotment of what it said was 25 gigabytes, using the phone to coordinate and keep track of different personnel and fire trucks as they were fighting a wildfire. Verizon has since apologized and said it made a customer service error, should have lifted the throttling for the emergency situation and has now removed all data restrictions for first responders on the West Coast. [12]


SOURCE: Fierce Wireless

In August of 2018, Fierce Wireless reported,

Verizon said that it will change the terms of service for its throttling practices on its wireless plans for public safety users, including for police, firefighters and other first responders. The action comes just days after documents revealed that the company significantly slowed the data speeds of firefighters battling a wildfire in California amid their pleas for full-speed access to Verizon’s network.[13]

Given that one of the major selling points to consumers regarding ubiquitous wireless connectivity is increased safety, the irony of Verizon’s disingenuous ad is that it demonstrates the alarming power being exerted over society by the wireless industry and its partners. [14]

And, brain scans and research conducted by Susan Foster on firefighters with cell antennas on their firehouses found evidence of harm, as well as cognitive impairment, leading the International Association of Firefighters to call for a moratorium. [15]

As if only firefighters need to protect their brain function, Verizon continues to seek permission to mount cell antennas near schools, homes, businesses, and hospitals.

Verizon has now launched its “All Our Thanks” campaign, insidiously linking our respect for first responders to Verizon.

The true emergency is that we believe it.

Cellphones and Brain Tumors

This brings us to another Verizon ad now airing following reports by the National Toxicology Program and the Ramazzini Institute that radio frequency exposure is associated with brain cancer and schwannomas of the heart. [16]

The new Verizon advertisement features a two-time brain cancer survivor and his mother.

About Verizon TV Commercial, ‘Austin and Jeulia: $300 Off’

As a two-time brain cancer survivor, Austin relies on his mother to be there for him when he needs it. They trust Verizon to keep them connected, even if that means Austin sometimes gets hundreds of texts from his mom. In the end, he knows it’s only because she cares so much.

SOURCE: iSpot.tv

Although we do not know from the ad whether or not this specific cancer is associated with radiofrequency exposure, there are numerous myths being reinforced by the wireless industry.

One false narrative is that wireless devices and cellphones are a good idea for a brain cancer victim, or for any cancer patient, or for anyone with a serious health condition, particularly in situations where hard-wiring is entirely possible, safer, more secure, and more reliable – for example, at home or in many workplaces.

Although the brain is protected by both the skull and the blood-brain barrier, humans have devised an environmental stressor that is unfamiliar to our biology and that is breaching our inborn defenses.

Like cancer, asbestos, and glyphosate, there are most likely numerous assaults on health resulting from these technologies. One of these is addiction, for which younger and younger children are not being protected, especially in the U.S. [17]

The second unchecked assumption is that cellphones are enhancing our humanity and our ability to care for one another and the planet, for example, with Austin and Jeulia.  The third false narrative is that faster, more ubiquitous coverage will make us safer and provide more in control of our lives.

In fact, the planned roll-out of untested 5G fifth generation telecommunications infrastructure is polluting the grid. It is placing vulnerable populations is the position of not being able to access society, with no place to live. Anywhere.

It will also threaten security, privacy and property values, while causing tremendous risk to investment market by withholding evidence of future liability.

One response has been to create legislation to shield the industry. [18] This action will cost-shift the burden to communities, social services and health care industry.

What If We Are Wrong About This “Wireless Tech”-is-the-Solution-to-All- Societal-Ills Belief System?

The tide finally turned regarding cigarettes when a Japanese researcher confirmed that exposure to second-hand smoke was linked to lung cancer, not by researching children’s health, but by looking at lung cancer death rates in widows of smokers. Based on considerations of Secondary Smoking, Individual Rights, and Public Space the Surgeon General final leveled with Americans that cigarettes caused harm. [19]

We do not need to wait for death rates decades later; we are already at the point where evidence has emerged that involuntary exposure to microwave radiation powering telecommunications networks is causing harm to a portion of the population, and that harm appears to be primarily reproductive, cognitive, and neurological. [20]

We have to stop blinding ourselves with a myopic focus on cancer.

Likewise, chemicals and fossil fuels are serving as the scapegoat for all of society’s ills, and being targeted by a generation of environmentalists promoting wireless and 5G connectivity as the solution for every challenge on the planet. What if we are wrong?

Every indication is that we are.

Perhaps not everyone working on the Verizon ad campaign is aware of the implications of the incredibly brazen portrayal of Verizon’s relationship to first responders, but one term that comes to mind for those who were directly affected by throttling during a wildfire is pure, unadulterated bullying.

Verizon is by no means the only player in the telecommunications wars.

The narrative for wireless smart meters exemplified green washing, as environmentalist groups like the Sierra Club, NRDC, and EDF promoted the claim that the wireless meter infrastructure would result in increased integration of renewables, including solar. [21] In response to betrayal and double crossing by utilities in state after state regarding solar, California  California just introduced a Solar Bill of Rights, as smart meter proponents pivot to the electric vehicle justification argument in 2019, a decade after meter deployment. In the meantime, state utility regulators and the industry are still promoting the renewables story.

In 2010, industry experts warned that energy efficient devices were actually polluting the grid with harmonics. [22]

One might think that CFLs use so little power and current that their poor power factor and large current harmonics will have little effect on the overall power grid. This is NOT our recent experience. One must bear in mind that CFLs are not the only energy-efficient loads with poor power factors and high harmonics. Energy-efficient washers, dryers, and refrigerators all have variable speed drives and onboard computers. All of them also have poor power factors and high harmonics. Ditto for computer systems and electronic ballasts in commercial fluorescent lighting,

SOURCE: Power Electronics

In the meantime, cities and towns are continuing to install high intensity LED lights. Additionally, 5G antennas are being installed in lighting ballasts along the public way, further corrupting power quality.

We don’t need to rush to roll-out 5G in order to beat the Chinese to world dominance.

We need to slow down, stop, and sit with the discomforting knowledge that the devices to which we have become so addicted are not a panacea, without scrolling for another dopamine hit. We need to recognize that wireless is an unacknowledged stressor to the planet. [23] And, like the firefighters, we need protection not only from wireless infrastructure, but also from the propaganda passing as public service.

Non-profit tax haven propaganda machines like the Smart Energy Consumer Collaborative and All Our Thanks need to be prohibited.  Taxes on wireless devices should support truly independent research. Wireless companies should not be able to control the public discourse through their advertising budgets. Product defense firms deserve to be prosecuted for lying, and excluded from regulatory and judicial decision-making.  Vulnerable citizens need immediate relief from encroachment. And consumers and especially parents can begin to untether themselves from the frivolous wireless lifestyle paradigm.

Energy policy based on corruption and greed, or even fear of not knowing how to get out of this mess, is not clean or green. And that tobacco scientist who testified successfully for Phillip Morris? He also works for the wireless industry, including the “smart” meter you might have on your house.

When you are standing at the edge of a cliff, progress is walking backward.  – Eco-feminist Marti Kheel


[1] http://tobacco.stanford.edu/tobacco_main/index.php
[2] Children have played a huge role in tobacco advertising over the decades, and images of children fulfill multiple purposes for tobacco advertisers. Particularly in the Baby Boomer era, depictions of children with their mothers or fathers in cigarette ads reinforced the respectability of smoking as a part of normal family life, a perception often promulgated by the tobacco industry.
[3] https://www.govinfo.gov/content/pkg/USCOURTS-ohnd-5_10-cv-01741/pdf/USCOURTS-ohnd-5_10-cv-01741-3.pdf
[4] showthefineprint.org
[5] https://tobaccoatlas.org/topic/health-effects/
[6] https://www.cnbc.com/2019/02/05/super-bowl-draws-lowest-tv-audience-in-more-than-a-decade-nielsen.html
[7] https://www.ispot.tv/ad/IS58/verizon-super-bowl-2019-the-team-that-wouldnt-be-here-anthony-lynn
[8] https://www.usatoday.com/story/tech/news/2018/08/22/verizon-throttled-unlimited-data-calif-fire-department-during-wildfire/1059486002/
[9] https://www.nytimes.com/2018/08/22/us/verizon-throttling-california-fire-net-neutrality.html
[10] https://www.npr.org/2018/08/22/640815074/verizon-throttled-firefighters-data-as-mendocino-wildfire-raged-fire-chief-says
[11] https://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2018/08/verizon-throttled-fire-departments-unlimited-data-during-calif-wildfire/
[12] https://www.usatoday.com/story/tech/2018/08/25/verizon-and-t-worst-offenders-throttling-but-we-have-some-solutions/1089132002/
[13] https://www.fiercewireless.com/wireless/amid-public-relations-mess-verizon-changes-throttling-terms-for-public-safety
[14] https://ehtrust.org/key-issues/harvard-press-book-telecom-industry-influence-us-fcc-captured-agency/
[15] https://www.radiationresearch.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/Sierra-Club-California-Arthur-Feinstein-2-9-19.pdf
[16] https://www.saferemr.com/2018/03/RI-study-on-cell-phone.html
[17] https://ehtrust.org/policy/international-policy-actions-on-wireless/
[18] https://safehelpsyou.org/2019/02/24/bill-to-restrict-lawsuits-from-5g-health-issues/
[19] https://profiles.nlm.nih.gov/ps/retrieve/Narrative/NN/p-nid/60
[20] https://www.aaemonline.org/emf_rf_position.php
[21] Solar Bill of Rights introduced in California
The legislation would enshrine a customer’s right to generate and store electricity on their own property as well as connecting to the grid without undue burden and freedom from discriminatory fees, as well as setting compensation for battery exports.
[22] https://www.powerelectronics.com/lighting-systems/shedding-light-power-quality-energy-efficient-bulbs
[23] https://www.networkworld.com/article/3108622/how-the-internet-could-increase-global-warming.html

Written by SNLS


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