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09/27/2011

Governor Vetoes Baby Bottle Tooth Decay Bill

ALBANY, NY – The New York State Dental Association (NYSDA) announced today that Governor Cuomo has vetoed a bill that would have helped to further protect the children of New York from tooth decay. The law (Senate Bill 5317 (Fuschillo)) would have required manufacturers of baby bottles and sippy cups to include a warning label on the packaging about the potential oral health hazards of putting a child to bed with milk or sugary beverages in a baby bottle or sippy cup.


“We are disappointed that Governor Cuomo has vetoed this piece of legislation,” said Dr. Chad Gehani, President of NYSDA. “Despite vigorous efforts on the part of NYSDA, including lobbying, television interviews, and a half-page commentary in the Times Union, the Governor has chosen to veto this piece of legislation. We continue to maintain this is an important oral health issue, and are proud that we were able to increase public awareness for this problem that affects so many children across the state.”


Severe tooth decay has a profound impact on children's long-term physical and emotional well-being, affecting everything from their ability to speak to proper development and formation of their adult teeth. You can see examples of this destruction at http://www.ada.org/3160.aspx.


NYSDA’s support of the baby bottle tooth decay bill was based on research showing a 15 percent increase in cavities among children ages 2 to 5, with strong correlation linking decay and usage of baby bottles and sippy cups containing sugary beverages, even milk, as pacifiers.


This well-established fact has prompted many manufacturers of these devices to voluntarily heed the advice of the American Dental Association (ADA) and NYSDA and include appropriate information and warnings on their packaging to alert caregivers to the dangers of allowing babies or toddlers to go to sleep with a bottle or sippy cup containing milk or other cariogenic liquid.


We do not understand Governor Cuomo’s concern that requiring these warnings in New York creates a problem for manufacturers who distribute nationally as New York  had, and missed, the opportunity to improve oral heath for children across the nation. In addition, while we appreciate the Governor’s willingness to sign a bill making these warnings voluntary, too many manufacturers, refused to distribute these warnings. Such refusals signified a blatant disregard for the health and welfare of our most vulnerable citizens, and prompted the need for this legislation.


This bill was sponsored by Senator Charles J. Fuschillo, Jr. (R-Merrick) and Assemblyman Peter J. Abbate, Jr. (D-Brooklyn) and supported by groups from around the state, including the New York State Oral Health Coalition, the Community Healthcare Network, and the New York State Academic Dental Centers.


The New York State Dental Association, founded in 1868, is one of the largest constituents of the American Dental Association and represents more than 13,000 dentists practicing in New York State.