Fluoride Action Network

Fluoride measure appears bottled up

Source: Honolulu Advertiser | February 18th, 2000 | by Lynda Arakawa
Location: United States, Hawaii

Despite the fact that the House yesterday gave preliminary approval to a fluoridation bill, the legislation appears to be heading toward a dead end.

Senate Health and Human Services Committee chairwoman Suzanne Chun Oakland (D-Palama, Aiewa Heights) said she will defer a decision on the governor’s bill to fluoridate the water supply “indefinitely.” She said her committee members would rather consider other alternatives and review information from supporters and opponents.

Chun Oakland said she will introduce a resolution asking the Legislative Reference Bureau to research the issue and propose other ways to improve children’s dental health.

Gov. Ben Cayetano and state health officials have repeatedly stressed the need for fluoridating the water supply, saying Hawaii’s children have one of the worst rates of tooth decay in the country. Health Department Director Bruce Anderson and others have said studies have found no hazardous health effects from fluoridation.

But opponents have said studies show fluoridating drinking water is unsafe and that other alternatives, such as fluoride pills, topical treatments and expanding dental hygiene programs should be pursued instead.

Senate President Norman Mizuguchi has said fluoridation isn’t an urgent issue this year and that he wouldn’t object if the bill were held in committee. House Speaker Calvin Say said he would leave the issue up to his members, but he was leaning against fluoridation.

Yesterday the House voted 33-7 to give preliminary approval to its version of the fluoridation bill, with some lawmakers saying they were voting in favor of the measure to encourage discussion and help educate the public about the issue.

House Health Committee Chairman Alex Santiago (D-Waialua, Kahuku) said there is “a tremendous amount of fear” surrounding the issue. House members cited many calls from constituents who oppose fluoridation. Some lawmakers said those fears must be addressed before a bill can pass.

The House bill is pending before the House Finance Committee.

But Chun Oakland said: “I don’t think the House will be moving it because they pretty much know that I won’t be supporting it.”