Campaigners signalled the start of a renewed bid to rid Hamilton of water fluoridation yesterday by hanging a banner from the Totara Dr overbridge in Te Rapa.
The banner visible to thousands of Wairere Dr motorists was hung by members of a group called Health Freedom New Zealand.
A Waikato branch spokeswoman, Robyn Hembry, acknowledged it was the start of a co-ordinated campaign.
“Health Freedom New Zealand is the philosophy for us to choose what we eat ourselves. Fluoride is not a choice issue. We are being medicated through our water supply.”
Mrs Hembry said the opposition was more organised than three years ago when the city voted in a referendum on the issue.
She cited a 2006 American Dental Association warning that babies’ formula should not be made up with fluoridated water.
“In the light of this, is Hamilton City Council prepared to offer water that is not fluoridated?”
Mrs Hembry also raised a European Court ruling a few years ago which she said stated that fluoridated water must be treated as a medicine and cannot be used to prepare foods.
She said it was relevant because British local authorities had started trying to enforce this ruling and were putting money into the cause.
“If this gets ratified more widely then New Zealand exporters would have to look very seriously at it.”
The issue arose earlier this month when city councillor Dave Macpherson led an effort to get water fluoridation debated by the council. He failed in his attempt but six of the 13 members of council were supportive of his views.
If in the next few months he can get support from one more councillor he could get rid of water fluoridation.
Anti-fluoridation campaigners are anxious to avoid another referendum, as they feel the national trend has been for poll results to favour fluoridation.
Waikato District Health Board has issued a position statement written by Waikato medical officer of health Felicity Dumble backing the Health Ministry’s support of fluoridation. It says the DHB regards fluoridation of drinking water as the most cost-effective population-based strategy to prevent dental decay. A Health Ministry report in 2000 concluded there was “no persuasive evidence of harmful effects of water fluoridation” and that “there are no serious health risks associated with the practice”.