Athol voters would be making a big mistake if they were to vote at town meeting on May 4 to eliminate fluoride supplements in their drinking water.

It is sadly ironic that some people will swallow handfuls of vitamins and take herbal remedies of unproven value and sometimes uncertain origin, while simultaneously rejecting the long-established medical wisdom regarding fluoridation. Some misguided or malicious individuals go still further, misinterpreting or distorting scientific studies as the basis of their claims that fluoride is at the root of every malady — from cancer to reduced IQ to osteoporosis.

Fortunately, there are voices of reason in this debate.

Athol Selectman Wayne Miller, M.D., points out that fluoridation of public drinking supplies is considered by many to be the world’s greatest medical advance and is endorsed by the American Dental Association, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the surgeon general.

Dental disease has declined markedly in the U.S. as fluoridation has spread. Today, some two-thirds of U.S. public water supplies are fluoridated.

We recognize that the issue of whether to fluoridate public drinking water supplies elicits strong feelings, and we support the right of voters to make that choice at the polls. We urge those in Athol to exercise that choice wisely and reject a misguided initiative that can only serve to set back the cause of public health.