The parliamentary Health Committee has released a report on the Health (Fluoridation of Drinking Water) Amendment Bill with a recommendation that it be passed with amendments.
The bill seeks to amend Part 2A of the Health Act 1956 by empowering district health boards to decide and then direct territorial authorities to fluoridate or not fluoridate drinking water supplies in their areas. Territorial authorities currently make this decision. The committee says this has resulted in inconsistent decisions about fluoridation throughout New Zealand.
The report says that about 54% of the New Zealand population receives fluoridated water.
"This level has not increased in the past 15 years. Giving DHBs the power to direct territorial authorities whether or not to fluoridate water would ensure that public health is a major factor in decision-making."
The bill was referred to the committee on 6 December 2016 with submissions closing on 2 February 2017. The committee received submissions from 1,107 interested groups and individuals and heard from 145 submitters.
"We acknowledge that the majority of submitters expressed concern about the safety and efficacy of water fluoridation," it says.
"Medical and dental associations and representative bodies, and most doctors and dentists, spoke in support of fluoridating water. However, we consider these issues beyond the subject matter of the bill, which is about giving DHBs the power to make a direction about fluoridation."