A Florida county has voted to stop adding fluoride to its drinking water after a polarizing debate that included warnings of reduced intelligence, cancer, Soviet-style tactics and forced medicating by government.

The Pinellas County Commission voted 4-3 to halt fluoridation to about 700,000 residents of the county, the St. Petersburg Times reports.

The city of St. Petersburg will not be affected, WTSP reports.

The vote came despite pleas from dentists and health officials who said fluoride reduces dental illness. Pinellas County, one of the largest holdouts among water suppliers in the country, began adding fluoride in 2004, the Times says.

County Commissioner Norm Roche says he voted against using fluoride because the public never asked for it, WTSP reports. Eliminating the program will save taxpayers an estimated $270,000 per year.

During the hearing, critics warned of the side-effects of fluoride on children, reduced IQ and cancer, and others raised the specter of forced medicating by government.

"Fluoride is a toxic substance," said Tea Party activist Tony Caso of Palm Harbor, the Times says. "This is all part of an agenda that's being pushed forth by the so-called globalists in our government and the world government to keep the people stupid so they don't realize what's going on."

He added: "This is the U.S. of A, not the Soviet Socialist Republic."

Commissioner Ken Welch said afterward that he was embarrassed by the decision, calling it "a big step backward for Pinellas County," the Times reports.