Fluoride Action Network

Fluoride will flow in Salt Lake, Davis water

Source: The Salt Lake Tribune | November 8th, 2000 | by Kristen Moulton
Location: United States, Utah

Fluoridated water will be flowing from the taps in Salt Lake and Davis counties in about a year.
But Logan voters were leaning against fluoridation in early results.
Water fluoridation, touted as a safe and effective way to reduce tooth decay, was winning in Salt Lake County, with 52 percent of the precincts’ votes counted. The vote was 80,880 to 59,603, or 58 percent for fluoride. (For latest totals, see A-1).
In Davis County, the result was closer, with 44,315 votes for fluoride and 40,894 against it.
Logan was going against fluoridation. With 26 percent of the precincts counted, opponents were winning, 1,320 to 1,101.
“I’m just grateful that voters believe the science and that they have the heart to help the 20 percent who can’t help themselves,” said Tony Tidwell, vice chairman of the Salt Lake Valley Board of Health and a leading fluoride proponent. “I hope those opposed will give fluoride a chance.”
Proponents, including public health officials and hospitals and most doctors and dentists, pleaded with voters to let 50 years of research triumph. Fluoride, they said, is particularly helpful to low-income families who cannot afford regular dental care.
But opponents, who began far behind in the polls, raised doubts about the need for fluoridation, its safety and the fairness of forcing people to accept fluoride in their water supply.
Tuesday’s vote was the biggest contest over fluoride in 24 years in Utah, the least fluoridated of all the states. Voters statewide rejected the water additive in 1976, and although voters in Brigham City and Helper approved it decades ago, Tooele’s voters had rejected fluoridation three times.
Utah’s medical community and public health officials began working quietly toward Tuesday’s ballot measures three years ago. By January, they had $14,000 in their campaign chest, which swelled to $40,000 by last week.
First, Utahns for Better Dental Health secured legislation that allowed a countywide vote in Salt Lake County. When the Salt Lake County Commission refused to place fluoridation directly on the ballot, proponents gathered petition signatures to force a ballot initiative.
Proponents also persuaded the Legislature last winter to allow the next tier of counties — Weber, Davis and Utah — to conduct countywide elections on the issue.
But Utahns for Better Dental Health succeeded in persuading only the Davis County Commission to schedule a countywide vote.