Health authorities are to get powers to increase the fluoridation of drinking water in England and Wales, despite widespread opposition.
The plans were revealed in a government letter leaked to The Sunday Times, which said people opposed to fluoride could use water filters or buy bottled drinking water.
Only about 11 per cent of the population receives fluoridated water. It is believed the Government’s proposals, to be introduced in an amendment to the Water Bill, could increase that to 25 per cent.
Although the process has been proven to reduce tooth decay, there are concerns about side-effects, which the Government has dismissed.
Fluoride has been added to water in Britain for the past 40 years, but fluoridation has been rejected in Germany, Belgium, Sweden, Italy, Denmark, Holland and France.
Jane Jones, the campaign director of the National Pure Water Association, said: “There will be a huge row about the renewed proposal to add fluoride to drinking water on a wide scale.
“This is nanny statism. It is outrageous. To medicate the whole population against their will is not the way to deal with tooth decay.”
A Department of Health spokeswoman, responding to a report on fluoridation published by the Medical Research Council, stated that it contained “nothing to suggest any reason why water fluoridation should not be considered as a public health measure in areas where dental health remains a serious problem”.