In California everything has a cancer warning. It doesn’t have any meaning anymore.
Unless there's one sign somewhere on the whole state I haven't seen, I don't think that's so. I live in California, and when I see those disclaimers, I take it as a suggestion to consciously manage risk. I may choose to live in those places, or buy those groceries, or live near plants and refineries that apparently don't rate a warning label, but I do so some measure better informed. Labeling environmental hazards seems like a much better idea than playing Battleship with known cancer clusters. However much they seem to be everywhere is however much they're needed. I'd say that carries meaning.
California's disclosure laws are often the only reason we hear about known risks that should be diligently disclosed. If it weren't for California's in particular, you wouldn't be seeing companies admit to private information, computer and network security breaches quite as much. Its influence is outsize its importance, which was already considerable among the states of the union.
You have a good point. Maybe it’s because I moved to California right from Venezuela. I was wondering why everything, chairs, pillows, mattresses, garbage bins, etc. had a cancer warning. The problem is that, if you put the warnings on too many things, people stop paying attention to them. Maybe it would be best to focus on a smaller set of things that pose a relatively high risk and put the rest of the information on a public repository so people who are interested in all the details can look them up? That in my opinion would have a higher chance of getting people to avoid the really dangerous stuff.
Not living in CA myself, my immediate reaction was exactly the same as leweb's. That said, I appreciate the thoughtful points that AdelleChattre also brought up.
Still, after reading the article I feel like there should be SOME sort of pre-agreed defined threshold at which the warning must be triggered. For example, how many ppm's of a carcinogen is considered warning-label-worthy? There should be some sort of objective standard for it, yet it seems from the article that there isn't such a thing.
Because without an objective standard like that, so much stuff can wind up with a warning, that people might believe that drinking a cup of coffee a day has the same cancer risk as smoking cigarettes daily.
In that regard, I'm happy not to live in CA. I also feel it's a shame that this sort of thing is being decided via lawsuits. The article says "the defense was burdened with showing that acrylamide in coffee wouldn't cause one or more cases of cancer for every 100,000 people, but the judge said that the risk had not been properly evaluated". I'm not saying in my comment that there is no cancer being caused, just that there is a lawsuit about something whose risks are not fully clear yet. To me, that seems frustrating and inefficient.
California is ruled by lawyers who try to make money off of everything. I certainly appreciate that, because you know, it keeps us honest.