Fluoride Action Network

Most councillors would vote “yes” to fluoride (5th of 12 articles in series)

Source: The Star (Dunedin) | February 28th, 2008 | By Brenda Harwood
Location: New Zealand

IF Dunedin city councillors were asked to vote today on whether to retain fluoridation of the water supply across the city, the results would be a firm “yes”.

In the light of the fluoridation debate sparked by Waitati residents, The Star asked councillors if they would vote “yes” or “no” to fluoridation?

Only two councillors, Fliss Butcher and Paul Hudson, expressed definite opposition to water fluoridation, both citing discomfort with the concept of “mass medication” by local authorities.

“I have not given my per mission to be medicated,” Cr Butcher said.

In the definite “yes” camp were Dunedin Mayor Peter Chin and councillors Richard Walls, Michael Guest, Neil Collins, Colin Weatherall and John Bezett.

Mr. Chin said he had “always been in favour” of fluoridation, because he believed it had worked, while Cr Collins said he was a “firm believer” in fluoride as a means of preventing tooth decay.

Cr Guest had followed the fluoridation debate since the mid-1060s and was “happy with the evidence of health experts”, and Mr Weatherall said it had a proven track record.

Cr Walls said, while it was important to keep an open mind, council would always go to its advisers rather than being “swayed by emotional argument”.

Another group of councillors declared themselves to be “open minded” and “no experts” on the issue, but were inclined to stick with the status quo. This group included Chris Staynes, Syd Brown, Dave Cull, Kate Wilson, Bill Acklin and Andrew Noone.

All felt inclined to accept the current advice of medical experts.

“As non-technical people, we [councillors] need to take on board the best advice we can,” Cr Cull said.

Cr Noone and Cr Hudson were supportive of a referendum to gauge the level of wider community support.

Teresa Stevenson said she would like water fluoridation to be controlled by the Otago District Health Board, because it was a “medication issue”.