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The methods and results of a contingent valuation survey to elicit public preferences for water fluoridation are reported. The study demonstrates that not only is it important to acknowledge that there will be losers from the introduction of such a programme but that losers must be allowed to express a value for the magnitude of their perceived loss. Two methods of valuing this loss are explored. Conventional willingness to accept compensation questions are compared with questions in which losers are asked to state their willingness to pay to prevent their water being fluoridated. The results provide tentative support for asking willingness to pay to prevent questions instead of willingness to accept questions when evaluating certain types of public good. The issue of protest responses in contingent valuation surveys is also highlighted and discussed.