After 44 years of water fluoridation, Whakatane District Council has voted to end the out-dated practice. Instead, they will consider providing funds to the District Health Board for targeted oral health programmes, like CHILDSMILE, which has been successful in Scotland for more than a decade. Because of this programme, Scottish children now have better teeth than New Zealand children, and Scotland has never been fluoridated.
21,000 people, including Whakatane and Ohope, will now have their water without added Hydrofluorosilic Acid (aka fluoride). With dental health statistics for Bay of Plenty showing no difference in decay rates between fluoridated Whakatane and the non fluoridated rest of the region. The only health effect from ending fluoridation is expected to be better health for all.
Fluoride Free New Zealand congratulates those Councillors that voted to stop. The reason most Councillors gave for choosing to stop fluoridation is that they were unsure of the health risks, and did not feel it should be their job to decide. Mayor Bonne said one of the reasons he voted to stop fluoridation was because he had been advised by previous Health Ministers that the Council was responsible, and that if it is found that fluoridation causes harm, then it will be the Council that would carry the consequences, not the Ministry of Health or Central Government.
Councillors were made aware today that the evidence showing fluoride’s harm is mounting every year. Fluoride is now classified as a neurotoxin. The US Government’s Toxicology Program is now embarking on a systematic review of all fluoride-brain studies and is conducting their own new animal studies to try to determine the dose at which harm occurs to the brain.
Since 1972, Whakatane District has had some areas fluoridated and some not. Now they will have a consistent no water fluoridation policy which is also in line with their neighbours; Tauranga, Rotorua and Opotiki. It is also in line with the vast majority of New Zealand councils and the vast majority of the world. Less than 4% of the world is still adding fluoride to public water supplies.
Whakatane District Council also agreed to undertake a report to provide advice on the logistics of earmarking the money, used on fluoridation chemicals, to the DHB as a transition measure. This would assist the DHB into implementing a targeted, comprehensive dental health programme to those children who really need help. Mayor Bonne and Cr Jarrett were keen to see a programme such as CHILDSMILE initiated so that children in need could be substantially helped. Most other councillors were also happy to assist the DHB to get this off the ground.
Fluoride Free New Zealand would like to thank everyone who has campaigned for this over many years, especially Jon Burness, Fluoride Free Whakatane campaign coordinator and one of the 291 NZ Health Professionals Opposing Fluoridation. See Jon Burness proudly announcing the great fluoride victory news today:
Whakatane Council members who voted in favour of stopping fluoridation were: Mayor Bonne, Cr Johnston, Cr Silcock, Cr Sheaff, Cr Van Beek and Cr Jarrett. Councillors who voted against stopping fluoridation were: Deputy Mayor Judy Turner, Cr Julie Jukes, Cr John Pullar, Cr Andrew Ilies, and Cr Russell Orr.