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Fluoride lobby loses court case

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 26/09/2016

The Court of Appeal has knocked back a bid by anti-fluoride lobbyists to challenge South Taranaki District Council's power to fluoridate the water supply.

In a case watched by many councils, New Health had challenged an earlier High Court decision granting the council the power, but its appeal was dismissed on Tuesday.

Councils had been adding fluoride to water since 1954 and parliament must have intended for that to continue when it passed the Local Government Act in 2002, Justice Tony Randerson said.

New Health had argued fluoridation breached the right to refuse medical treatment, but Justice Randerson said that it was a broader health measure and even if it was a breach it was justifiable given it reduced tooth decay.

The advantages outweighed the only known drawback, which was fluorosis, or mottling of teeth.

While the court said fluorides were not medicines, it urged the Ministry of Health to consider a law change to put the matter beyond doubt.

Earlier this year, the government said it would shift responsibility for adding fluoride to water from local authorities to district health boards.

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