Opinion is split in Marlborough over the contentious issue of water fluoridation, according to the results of a poll carried out on the Marlborough Express website.
With the exception of Base Woodbourne, Marlborough water is not fluoridated.
Of the 2098 people who took part in the poll this week, 55.8 per cent were against fluoridation, 41.9 per cent supported it and 2.2 per cent did not know or did not care.
Anti-fluoride supporters said they feared for the health implications, however, supporters of fluoridation said putting fluoride in the water was no different from taking a fluoride tablet.
Last month, councils around the country voted strongly in favour of leaving any decision on water fluoridation up to the director-general of health.
Marlborough Mayor Alistair Sowman supported devolving the decision, saying councils would be exposed to defending decisions in costly court cases.
The Express asked Blenheim residents their views on fluoridation yesterday.
MS sufferer Paula Davis said she opposed water fluoridation for health reasons.
“There would quite possibly be uproar and I wouldn’t be pleased,” she said. “I have MS and I don’t want any fluoride or chemicals pumped into the water. If you want fluoride you can by it in toothpaste or get a prescription from your doctor.
“It is a personal choice and shouldn’t be thrust on to us. Marlborough has been fluoride-free and I don’t think children’s teeth are any worse. I don’t think it is good for people’s health at all.”
Gill Rutledge, of Blenheim, said he supported water fluoridation as a father but any move should be thrashed out with the public first.
“I would be really hacked off if the government made a decision against the wish of the people whether they are in favour or not. It is an emotive issue which has the power to shift people out of the region.”
Pharmacist Tim Ting said fluoride tablets were popular in Blenheim and water fluoridation would be a positive thing.
“I see it as a good thing. We sell a lot of fluoride tablets in Blenheim especially to families with children. I have only ever had one customer who requested a non-fluoride toothpaste.
“Like any drug, research reports show the good and bad sides but we should look at the bigger picture and see the advantages. Most of my dentist friends see the benefit of fluoridation in reducing tooth decay and cutting visits to a dentist.”
Nick Cole from Blenheim said the science was on the side of water fluoridation. “My kids were brought up on fluoride tablets. The science behind water fluoridation is positive.
“It is shocking the level of dental decay with so much sweet rubbish around,” he said.
Local Government NZ president Lawrence Yule said he planned to lobby the government on the issue after the election.
New Zealand Dental Association spokesman Dr Rob Beaglehole said water fluoridation would reduce tooth decay by 40 per cent and could save Nelson Marlborough District Health Board $1 million a year.