Public Policy l Fluoridation Facts 99 Fluoridation campaigns can vary greatly from community to community. To paraphrase an old saying, “If you’ve seen one fluoridation campaign, you’ve seen one fluoridation campaign.” A number of factors commonly come into play when fluoridation is put to a public vote and does not succeed. Among those factors are a lack of funding, public and professional apathy, the failure of many legislators and community leaders to take a stand because of perceived controversy, low voter turnout and the difficulty faced by an electorate in evaluating scientific information in the midst of emotional charges by opponents. Voters are often unaware of the fluoride content of their water. Unfortunately, citizens sometimes mistakenly believe their water contains the recommended level of fluoride when, in fact, it does not. On the other hand, people sometimes say they have great teeth and don’t need fluoridation when in fact, the major reason they have such good teeth is because they’ve had the benefit of fluoride in the water their entire lives. And, in some cases, because fluoridation campaigns often become political campaigns, there are political factors that can sway a vote that have nothing at all to do with fluoridation. Clever use of emotionally charged “scare” propaganda by fluoride opponents creates fear, confusion and doubt within a community when voters consider the use of fluoridation.84,85 Defeats of referenda or the discontinuance of fluoridation have occurred most often when a small, vocal and well organized group has used a barrage of fear-inspiring allegations designed to confuse the electorate. In addition to attempts to influence voters, opponents have threatened community leaders with Figure 8. States Meeting National Goal * Data Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention/Division of Oral Health. “National Fluoridation Statistics” 2014. Available at States Meeting the Healthy People 2020 Goal Of 79.6% of the Population Served by Community Water Supplies Receiving Fluoridated Water* Over 75% of population served by community water supplies receiving fluoridated water.
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