Election Produces a Victory and a Setback
At least two ballot measures on fluoridation were decided on November 3, 2015 by voters in two cities. Voters in Gloucester, Massachusetts supported the continuation of community water fluoridation, while voters in San Marcos, Texas adopted a city charter amendment that forbids this practice.
Nearly two-thirds of voters in Gloucester backed a referendum asking “Shall the public water supply for domestic use in the city of Gloucester continued to be fluoridated?” The ballot measure won 65% of the vote, and it carried a majority in all eight of the city’s voter precincts. Although the vote is non-binding, the solid show of support means that the city council and mayor are highly unlikely to pursue anti-fluoridation policies.
In San Marcos, the anti-fluoride amendment was passed with 61% support. A reporter in the Austin American-Statesman noted that the San Marcos vote puts the city at odds with health and science experts. Most health officials, the reporter wrote, “have said that the widespread adoption of [fluoridation] following World War II is a success story that has greatly improved dental health, and that fears of health defects, are based on shaky science.”
Public health advocates must continue to be vigilant and respond promptly when their local fluoridation policies. Educating parents, elected officials and the public should be viewed as an ongoing responsibility — instead of waiting until critics distort the scientific evidence. These resources can help!