Fluoride Action Network

Fluoride Controversy. Lawmakers pass bill despite years of voter opposition

Source: Texarkana Gazette | March 4th, 2011 | Editorial
Location: United States, Arkansas

Pretty soon, many cities in Arkansas will see fluoride added to their water supply

Even if they don’t want the stuff in their drinking water.

And they get to pay for it, too.

Even if they didn’t want the stuff in their drinking water.


The state says so. Some lawmakers decide they know what’s best, they pass a bill, the governor inks it and the rest of us—the voters and taxpayers—must comply.

Isn’t it great how that works?

Senate Bill 359 requires cities with populations over 5,000 to fluoridate their municipal water supplies. It’s a unfunded mandate, which means the cities – read taxpayers and water customers – will have to cough up the money for it. The bill’s backers say the cost is negligble, but then the cost is always negligible if you are making someone else pay.

The legislation passed both the House and Senate in near-record time and now awaits Gov. Mike Beebe’s signature.

The bill exempts cities that get their water from another state, so it looks like Texarkana will miss this bullet. Or maybe not. State Sen. Steve Harrelson, who voted against the bill, said he wasn’t sure if the language in the bill was clear enough to keep the fluoridation forces away from the Twin Cities.

Supporters – including many dentists – say fluoridation is a cheap and effective means of preventing tooth decay. They can pull up statistics and demonstrate fluoridation helps prevents cavities.

That, supporters say, means fluoridation will save Arkansas money on dental bills and the state money on Medicaid spending for dental care.

But those opposed have their own arguments.

They say we get enough fluoride from toothpastes and dental treatments. They also point to a 2006 Environmental Protection Agency study that led the federal government to reduce the amount of fluoride they had previously recommended for water systems.

And they say that fluoride has been linked to myriad other health problems.

Both sides make a good case. But we are swayed by a third view.

State Rep. Prissy Hickerson – who is married to a Texarkana dentist – said she supports fluoridating water, but not the state requiring cities to do so.

That’s the argument we find most compelling.

Some cities in the state already add fluoride to their water. And that’s fine. But residents of other cities – including Texarkana – have consistently voted down every proposal on fluoridation.

No matter how many times the benefits have been explained, no matter how many arguments are presented, the people say no. They don’t want fluroide. Now they intend to force feed it to them.

And that’s just wrong.

If the people of Texarkana or any other city voted in favor of fluoride, we would not disagree. But having the stuff forced on Arkansans who don’t want it? That’s something we can’t swallow.