Hamilton’s vote shows why central govt should step in on the fluoridation issue

Come on, Boss.

A bit of leadership, please.

The fact is, Prime Minster John Key is being a tad precious when he describes anti-fluoride arguments as “overstated”.

He is reported to have told the media at the National Fieldays he supports fluoridation of water supplies.

But then he said it is a matter for local councils to decide.

“In my view, the evidence strongly supports that fluoride actually stops tooth decay, overall the health benefits of it are significant, and actually those that worry about the negative effects overstate those matters,” he said.

He would not be drawn on the Hamilton City Council’s decision to remove fluoride from the city’s water supply, which is a bloody shame, because he has had no hesitation in allowing his government to step in elsewhere when local authorities behave like prats.

He did say he thought “there were no significant negative health side-effects” from fluoridation.

And that’s what most health authorities (with some exemptions) say too.

Hamilton city councillor and Waikato District Health Board member Ewan Wilson has had the gumption to press for a referendum in an effort to reverse the council’s high-handed decision.

Asked if he would support Wilson’s call for a binding referendum, Key said: “That’s a matter for the local community to decide, but one thing that is really important is that people are well informed.

“Because the argument that people can get fluoride through another form – a supplement outside of the water supply – is true, but the question you have to ask yourself is, will those who are most at risk get fluoride in another form? And I think the evidence shows they’re not.”

It is pleasing to see the Prime Minister’s Chief Science Advisor, Professor Sir Peter Gluckman, has pitched in behind the supporters of fluoridation.

He has written a blog post exploring the science of fluoridation and how it can be used – and misused – in the current debate.

Most important, Sir Peter says –

The science of fluoride in water is effectively settled. It has been one of the most thoroughly worked questions in public health science over some decades. There is a voluminous scientific and lay literature that needs to be considered.

The Boss should show he supports Sir Peter by making this a national health issue, not something to be determined by local body mandarins.

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