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Fluoridation victory

California state Supreme Court declines to hear final appeal

Watsonville, Calif.— After a three-year legal fight by the local city council, community water fluoridation is set to come to Watsonville.

The state Supreme Court declined to hear the final appeal by the Watsonville City Council. In addition, the Supreme Court denied the motion of the petitioners to depublish the California 6th District Court of Appeals' opinion which was rendered in December 2005.

"We are thrilled with the California Supreme Court's decision to reject the Watsonville fluoridation case," said Jon R. Roth, executive director of the California Dental Association Foundation. "Because this case is precedent-setting for all California courts, the decision affirms, once and for all, that community water fluoridation is safe, effective, and a matter of statewide concern in California. We're glad to finally move ahead with helping improve the oral health of the families in Watsonville."

The CDAF has nearly $1 million set aside to cover initial fluoridation capital costs in Watsonville and will now be able to move ahead with the process.

"We appreciate all of parties who helped see this case through," Mr. Roth added, "particularly the California Department of Health Services and the ADA legal team. Their support was critical to the outcome of this case."

"The California Supreme Court's denial of the petition for review in Watsonville, as well as its earlier denial of the petition for review in the Escondido case, provides the dental profession with two great victories involving fluoridation," said ADA Chief Counsel Peter M. Sfikas. "In achieving the Watsonville victory there was excellent collaboration between the American Dental Association and the California Dental Association."

Peter DuBois, executive director, California Dental Association, expressed gratitude to the ADA for its assistance in the case.

"Thank you for your enduring support and assistance with this important effort," said Mr. DuBois. "It was a model of ADA-constituent-component collaboration, and it has produced a significant step forward in the fight for fluoridation."

In 2002, the Watsonville City Council chose not to comply with California state law mandating fluoridation for water systems with 10,000 or more hookups and the funding to fluoridate, but took its case to the courts, contending that a referendum by city voters who passed an antifluoridation measure in November 2002 should be enforced.

The court of appeals last December upheld a trial court ruling that the state's fluoridation law preempts a city law banning fluoridation and ruled that the decision be published.

The appeals court decisions ruled that the state statute supersedes local ordinances.

The decision, certified for publication, also called fluoridation of public water systems a statewide concern, saying "the state's extramunicipal concerns tip the scales in favor of statewide regulation of water fluoridation." The decision also stresses that a "patchwork of local measures cannot provide" assurance that citizens throughout the state receive water that conforms to all current public health standards and that decreasing the burden of state health care programs will help prevent tooth decay, "a major public health problem in California."