Wichita advocates to take anti-fluoride movement across state, nation

? Advocates who led the successful fight against adding fluoride to Wichita’s water say they will work to get their message out across the state and the nation.

Wichita voters on Tuesday rejected a proposal to add fluoride to the city’s water by a 60 percent to 40 percent margin. Although three-fourths of the country fluoridates its water, the anti-fluoride movement is gaining traction across the nation, Jonathan Hall, of Wichitans Against Fluoridation, said after the vote.

“We’re part of the upcoming wave of change,” he said.

Wichita pediatrician Larry Hund, one of the leading proponents of fluoridation, told The Wichita Eagle that he thought the vote would be closer. But he said the claim that fluoride is toxic played to people’s emotions rather than scientific reasoning.

“It’s easier to scare people than to teach them about the science involved,” he said.

Both Mark Gietzen, president of the Kansas Republican Assembly, and Hall said that the anti-fluoride forces plan to continue their efforts.

“We’re definitely going to take this statewide; we’re not going to quit,” Gietzen said.

The effort might include working for a state recommendation against fluoridation while still allowing communities to decide the issue locally.

“Since I am connected to the National Federation of Republican Assemblies. I’m going to try to make fluoride one of our core issues,” said Gietzen, who likened fluoride to lead and asbestos. “Things that we thought were right back then maybe were not such a good idea after all. That’s where we are with fluoride.”

Hund said the anti-fluoride advocates don’t realize what will happen because of the vote.

“We see a lot of children with really bad teeth and parents who don’t have insurance,” Hund said. “This will affect this generation and the next generations until we finally have the benefits” of fluoridation.