Bellingham voters opposed fluoride

Posted: Friday, September 28, 2007

In 2005 the citizens of Bellingham, Wash., faced the same vote you are about to take - to fluoridate our water or not. Like your initiative, the initiative we voted on was funded by outside interests through the Washington State Dental Assoc. and Washington Dental Service Foundation, the nonprofit arm of Delta Dental Insurance Co.

Raising over $300,000 largely from outside the community they outspent the opposition 21:1. They paid California consultants to bring in signature gatherers and a CA film company to produce a TV video ad. Proponents ran a political - not an educational campaign - to convince voters to fluoridate. See www.gih/usr_doc/Path_to_policy_change_no26.pdf, page 6, Fluoride for a Healthy Skagit by WDSF president, Tracy Garland.

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I spent a whole summer tabling next to the proponents at our Public Market and at various public meetings. Proponents had no science-backed data supporting their position to show, while we had volumes that documented health concerns. In addition we could show the results of a University of Washington Dental Survey documenting no significant difference in tooth decay between counties in WA that fluoridate and those that don't. To this day the Washington Department of Health has failed to show evidence that communities in Washington that fluoridate have lower decay rates than those that don't. The most important thing I learned from our campaign, in addition to all the scientific evidence against medicating the water with fluoride, is the only argument one cannot refute is that no government or majority vote should be able to mandate an individual's medications. One man's medicine is another man's poison. Fluoride is readily available and inexpensive if one believes it is necessary for healthy teeth. Let everyone choose for themselves.

Oh, and the outcome of the vote was rejected - 53 to 47 percent. The local newspaper reported that the vote was carried in the affluent neighborhoods where the more educated are likely to reside. I believe that the voters who rejected fluoridation were the ones who educated themselves by doing their own research and looking closely at both sides instead of simply accepting the voices of authority.

Shirley Jacobson

Registered nurse

Bellingham, Wash.

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