Pew Spews False Fluoridation Propaganda in Alabama

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National Oral Health Coalition Annual Meeting 2013

Huntsville, Alabama

April 20, 2013


8:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. Speaking Up Effectively About Water Fluoridation: a Speaker’s Training Workshop for Advocates and Spokespersons CDE 4.0


Sponsored by: CDC, Pew Children’s Dental Campaign, ADA, ASTDD


Registration fee: $75.00 – fee includes a refreshment break – Attendance is limited to the first 60 registrants.


Matt Jacob, BA; Linda S Orgain, MPH; William A. Smith, EdD (More on William A. Smith below), PhD; Leslee Williams, BS


More than 65 years of experience and hundreds of studies prove that community water fluoridation is safe and effective in preventing dental disease. The CDC heralds fluoridation as one of ten great public health achievements of the 20th century. Oral health professionals and advocates are often called upon to explain and defend water fluoridation to the media, government officials and a variety of public audiences. This interactive skill-building session will provide training and tips for speakers, mock interviews with a voluntary videotaping component, and other practical assistance. Evidence-based fluoridation information and resources will be provided. Learn how to effectively frame responses with confidence; structure focused and effective media responses to inquiries; and develop and deliver public presentations and testimony on this important public health topic. Recommended for State Dental Directors and others interested in building their communications skills.


Sunday April 21

The morning sessions look at innovative programs in our host state of Alabama, safety net patient centered health care homes that include oral health services and the fight for public water fluoridation with reports from the PEW Dental Campaign, and advocates from Portland, Oregon and Milwaukee, Wisconsin


Monday April 22

4:30 p.m. – 5:30 p.m. CDC Water Fluoridation Update

The CDC Water Fluoridation Program Update provides new

information to state program staff on CDC data applications, training

materials, and water fluoridation program. State dental directors,

fluoridation specialists, and others involved in water fluoridation

will benefit by attending this session.


April 23

Portland Water Fluoridation Campaign Lessons Learned


Raquel Bournhonesque, MPH; Mel Rader, MS

Portland, Oregon recently enacted water fluoridation, providing more than 900,000 residents with this community-based intervention. Although past efforts failed, learn why a recent effort made by a broad coalition, fended off local and national anti-fluoridation groups and individuals who cite unsubstantiated science as their basis of concern. Presentations will focus on public health advocates use of the media and political strategies to navigate through difficult political processes. This case study will describe: 1) the policy approach and nature of the debate within a broad coalition; 2) effective types of messages used to influence policymakers, the public, and the media; and 3) political challenges and opportunities to passage. Presenters will focus on the elements of the campaign, including building a coalition of diverse partners, communicating key messages, neutralizing opposition’s arguments, and mobilizing key supporters.


Oral Presentations

This session will feature oral presentations of scientific research of interest to attendees. See final program for a complete list of topics and presenters.


April 24

Defending Community Water Fluoridation: Insights and Tools to Help Locate Advocates

Matt Crespin, MPH, RDH; Jane Gillette, DDS; Johnny Johnson, DMD, MS


The purpose of this session is to enable attendees to understand the strategies and resources that oral health advocates are using to combat attempts to roll back water fluoridation in various communities. Presenters will offer their insights on which tactics or tools proved most helpful and which ones, if any, backfired or failed to have the intended impact.


2:45 pm

National Water Fluoridation Recommendations – Details and Significance

Kip Duchon, PE, BS, MS; Linda Orgain, MPH; TBD, TBD


After extensive input and review, HHS has finalized a new recommendation for the adjusted fluoride concentration in drinking water to prevent dental caries. State and local authorities have questions about the significance of the change and the projected benefits and challenges that may result. This session will present details about the recommendation, underlying science, operational issues, and associated communication and policy issues. The presentation will cover related engineering and administration practices, the HHS response to public comments, and partner perspectives.


Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders is the invited, but apparently not confirmed, keynote speaker


William A Smith was moderator of his CDC Conference which includes fluoridation


CDC – National Conference on Health Communication, Marketing, and Media



1:15–2:45 pm Centennial III


Fighting Fear and Pseudo-Science: A Radio Talk Show Style Exploration of

Lessons from Immunization, Environmental Protection, and Community Water Fluoridation


Public health finds itself in an increasingly awkward position. Fear, one of its primary weapons against disease, is

being turned against public health. Fear of government, fear of cancer, fear of side effects, and fear of environmental

pollution are all being used to threaten and turn back some of public health’s greatest achievements. Beyond fear,

scientific thinking itself is under attack. Scientific studies are distorted, either deliberately or out of ignorance. Scientific

principles such as the impossibility of proving a negative are used to confuse uneducated audiences. Poor studies are

quoted as though they compare to robust, well-done studies.


By the end of this presentation, participants will be able to provide reasonable answers to several, if not all, of the

following questions:


• How is communication central in the fight against fear and phony science?

• What happens when national public health institutions become complacent about old public health issues?

• How can a national organization support local efforts without dominating the issue?

• How do local politics influence health decisions?

• How does science influence and/or confuse local decision makers?




William A. Smith, EdD, PhD, is recognized as one of the leading specialists in the application of social marketing

to social change. He is a co-founder of the Institute for Social Marketing. He publishes a regular column in Social

Marketing Quarterly and serves as editor on that journal as well as The Journal of Communication, International

Perspective and the Applied Environmental Education and Communication: An International Journal. After entering

phased retirement in 2009, Dr. Smith continues to serve as Co-Editor of the Social Marketing Quarterly and as

consultant to various foundations and agencies. For the last two years, he has worked as Senior Communications

Consultant to the PEW Foundation on the development of their Community Water Fluoridation Initiative.




Glen Nowak, PhD, is a senior advisor to the Director of CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory

Diseases (NCIRD) and a member of NCIRD’s senior management team. He provides leadership and expertise in

communication science, health communications, risk communication, news media, social marketing, and public

engagement. He is involved in projects and collaborations designed to increase vaccine confidence and acceptance, to

address vaccine coverage disparities, and to promote adoption of vaccination recommendations. Dr. Nowak also directs

and collaborates on vaccine and immunization research and evaluation projects. He is also involved in NCIRD and

CDC’s pandemic influenza preparedness and response efforts.


Matt Jacob is a seasoned media professional [he is the media/PR person for Pew on fluoridation] whose strategic insights have helped nonprofits, advocacy organizations,

and associations strengthen their public images, raise the profile of their issues, and manage crises effectively. Mr. Jacob

has worked in more than 30 states and overseas to help these organizations communicate effectively and translate

research into clear, compelling messages. He co-authored three reports that were cited in a 2002 U.S. Supreme Court

opinion. Mr. Jacob is a published author, and his op-ed columns and other articles have appeared in the Los Angeles

Times, USA Today,, Detroit Free-Press, Boston Globe, Huffington Post, and many other print and online



Peter Mitchell is a former journalist and legislative staffer; he got into social marketing more than a decade ago when

he was asked to direct the marketing campaign for a new anti-tobacco initiative in Florida. The campaign became

“truth”—an effort that transformed tobacco control and was replicated on a national scale after Florida showed the first

statewide drop in teen smoking in 19 years.


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