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Colorado coalition results in win for fluoridation

Fort Collins, Colo. — A state coalition that conducted a "vote no" campaign on a measure to discontinue community water fluoridation enjoyed a victory at the polls April 5 when the voters rejected the ballot issue by a 2-to-1 margin.

The Larimer County Dental Society and the Colorado Dental Association worked to educate and engage the assistance of local dentists, physicians and other interested parties to defeat the proposal brought by antifluoridationists, says Gary Cummins, CDA executive director.

The proposal was defeated 66 percent to 34 percent, with a 43 percent voter turnout that resulted in just under 31,500 ballots cast.

"We're thrilled with the outcome," says Mr. Cummins. "The local dentists really worked hard over the last few months. They spent a lot of time, effort and money to protect the dental health of the community. And now we have a model to use in other communities that might be facing this issue in the future."

The multifaceted campaign included coordinating dentists to write articles, editorials and letters to local newspapers supporting fluoridation; producing a television commercial; running a full-page ad listing the names of every local dentist (nearly every dentist in the community) and physician who supports community water fluoridation, as well as the names of profluoridation local, state, national and international organizations; placing profluoridation yard signs in the yards of dentists and other supporters; and lobbying legislators at the state and national levels.

Mr. Cummins says Colorado dentists who attended the recent Washington Leadership Conference met with their congressmen and senators and asked them to sign a letter in support of community water fluoridation and came home with all nine signatures. They included the signed letter in information packets distributed to all state representatives, hoping to gain legislative support for fluoridation in Fort Collins, as well as in other communities that might face this issue in the future.

"You never know how a vote will go," Mr. Cummins adds. "The antis appeal to emotions instead of using scientific evidence. That's the challenge we face."

Missouri voters in two communities were divided at the polls April 5. Citizens in Carl Junction, Mo., voted 813 to 477 to fluoridate the city's water supply, but Neosho, Mo., voters rejected a proposal for community water fluoridation by a vote of 1,223 to 509.