An anti-fluoridation group fresh from a successful campaign in Hamilton is shifting the battle lines to our biggest city.
The activists face a tough fight with a majority of Auckland city leaders, including mayor Len Brown, telling the Herald on Sunday this week that they would not want tooth decay-fighting fluoride removed from the city's drinking water.
All of metropolitan Auckland's water supplies, except Onehunga and Huia village, receive between 0.7 and one milligram of fluoride per litre, in line with Ministry of Health recommendations.
Fluoride Action Network national co-ordinator Mary Byrne said the 1,500-member group wanted Auckland Council to follow Hamilton City Council's lead and hold a tribunal hearing into whether fluoridation should continue. The tribunal agreed this month to end the practice in Hamilton.
"We think there's a lot of people in Auckland who want to know the facts," Byrne said.
The group organised a public meeting in Freemans Bay last night where an oncologist, retired doctor and practising dentist spoke about their opposition to fluoridation.
Councillor Cameron Brewer said there was little support for an end to fluoridation.
"The scientific evidence to retain it is a lot stronger than any emotional argument ... I would like to think Auckland's children are safe for a lot longer yet."
Brewer's stance was backed by a dozen of his colleagues - Arthur Anae, Penny Webster, Ann Hartley, Richard Northey, Noelene Raffills, Christine Fletcher, George Wood, Cathy Casey, Sandra Coney, Dick Quax, Penny Hulse and Mike Lee - while councillors Michael Goudie, Des Morrison, Sharon Stewart, Alf Filipaina, Calum Penrose and Sir John Walker could not be contacted.
Councillor Wayne Walker said he was undecided.
He had read studies against fluoridation from medical and dental professionals, whom he could not name, that concerned him.
"There's no question there are some health effects that affect some people."
Submissions against fluoridation were made during the annual plan and Walker thought it should be discussed by the council separately to the Water Strategic Action Plan. No decision has been made yet on what aspects of the region's water supply over the next 20 to 30 years will be included in the plan.
City health officials unanimously agreed
fluoridation should continue.
Auckland Regional Public Health Service clinical director of health Dr Julia Peters said it was "safe, beneficial to health and cost effective".
Counties Manukau District Health Board spokeswoman Lauren Young said they, like the Auckland and Waitemata district health boards, supported the practice.
"These people are fighting evidence-based science and proven outcomes with unsubstantiated opinion."
Hamilton stopped adding adding fluoride to the civic water supply on June 21 and it takes about two weeks to be clear of the additive.