92 American Dental Association In recent years, challenges to fluoridation have been dismissed for a variety of reasons, including that plaintiffs admitted they could not establish injury by virtue of fluoridation and that state law supporting fluoridation prevailed over local attempts to oppose fluoridation. Interestingly, pro- and anti- fluoridation interests have each won and lost legal challenges regarding which state or local agency has regulatory authority over fluoridation, which of course varies by state and locality. State law variances have also led to different rulings on other issues, such as whether downstream end- users of fluoridation must be given an opportunity to vote on whether to fluoridate. While cases decided primarily on procedural grounds have been won and lost by both pro- and anti- fluoridation interests, to the ADA’s knowledge no final ruling in any of those cases has found fluoridation to be anything but safe and effective. For additional information regarding the legal status of community water fluoridation in the United States, refer to The Fluoride Legislative User Information Database (FLUID) which is a comprehensive database containing historical information on legal cases decided by U.S. courts. The database also contains current information on federal and state policies regarding community water fluoridation. The website can be accessed at: http://fluidlaw.org. 62. Why does opposition to community water fluoridation continue? Answer. Public health controversies sometimes exist regarding public health interventions. In public health there can be tension between “public good” and “individual freedoms.” Because public health deals with populations it is all but impossible to resolve issues to achieve approval from 100 percent of the individuals within the population. When looking at fluoridation, some individuals opposed to fluoridation are sincere in their beliefs. Others ignore what constitutes reputable scientific evidence as defined by the vast majority of the scientific community and choose instead to base their beliefs on personal opinions and studies with flawed methodologies. Fact. Fluoridation is considered beneficial by the overwhelming majority of the health and scientific communities as well as the general public. A vast body of scientific literature endorses water fluoridation as a safe means of reducing the incidence of tooth decay. Support for fluoridation among scientists and health professionals, including physicians and dentists, is nearly universal. Recognition of the benefits of fluoridation by the American Dental Association, the American Medical Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, governmental agencies and other national health and civic organizations continues as a result of published, peer-reviewed research. Fluoridation has a long history of being a political issue, as well as a scientific one, with opposition including activists from both the right and the left of the political spectrum. In the late 40s, opposition to fluoridation began to appear nationwide. Reportedly, one of the first public votes on fluoridation occurred in 1950 in Stevens Point, Wisconsin,64 when a local activist initiated a campaign to stop the introduction of what he called “poison” into the water system. The campaign quickly moved from being a discussion of the science to a political campaign that included the involvement of a large number of civic groups, unofficial public petitions, calls for a debate, campaign rallies and numerous letters to the editor that “kept typesetters busy preparing for print the thousands of words that poured into the editor’s desk.” After 1950 when the U.S. Public Health Service and ADA endorsed fluoridation, proponents became more organized in their efforts to promote fluoridation while the opposition capitalized on the political nature of the struggle and used lessons learned in Stevens Point. Of the small faction that opposes water fluoridation for philosophical reasons, freedom of choice probably is one of the most frequently cited issues. People take the stance that society should not “force” individuals to act in ways that are beneficial to their own health or the health of others. They are opposed to “government interference” in their lives.65 Some individuals are opposed to community action on any health issue, others are opposed due to environmental or economic concerns and some are opposed because they are simply misinformed. Opposition to fluoridation has existed since the initiation of the first programs in 1945 and continues today despite over 70 years of practical experience
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