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Fluoride fighters hit bush councils: Daily Telegraph article

The following article was published in the Daily Telegraph Tuesday, 26 December 2017:

NSW councils are delaying adding fluoride to their water after being lobbied by wacky conspiracy theorists trying to claim it can be linked to cancer and autism.

Both Vega Valley Shire Council and Gunnedah Shire Council have held surveys on whether they should add fluoride to their water.

Gunnedah last week voted in favour of the move after months of debate, but Bega is yet to make a decision.

Opposition Health spokesman Walt Secord is calling on the state government to force councils to add fluoride to their water. Mr Secord likened the anti-fluoride activists to the anti-vaccination movement.

Australian Dental Association NSW is rolling out its own campaign to counteract "the fear-mongering" peddled by anti-fluoride protesters. 

The association has also joined a coalition with 12 other public health organisations - including the Australian Medical Association, the National Rural Health Alliance and the Royal Flying Doctor Service - to write an open letter supporting the use of fluoride. 

Water fluoridation is the controlled addition of fluoride to a public water supply to reduce tooth decay. About 93 per cent of NSW tap water supply undergoes fluoridation.

Protesters have tried to claim fluoridation can be linked to breast cancer, thyroid cancer and autism.

Paediatric dentist and ADA policy advisor Dr Sarah Raphael said the claims were dangerous and not supported by evidence. She pointed to a National Health and Medical Research Council report that described fluoride as "a safe, effective and ethical way to help reduce tooth decay."

Mr Secord said it was time for the state government to intervene: "Fluoride is one of the great public health achievments and it is mind-boggling that any group would oppose its introduction."

Bega Valley councillor Jo Dodds said the survey was now finished and the council would make a decision in the new year. She said she believed people "should have a right to choose."

A NSW Health spokesman said they would "continue to urge all NSW councils to consider water fluoridation." 

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