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March 4th, 2014:

Letter: Raise tobacco age to 21

Lane Filler’s column “Illogical bans on tobacco sales” [Opinion, Feb. 26], on banning sales to anyone younger than 21, would be comical if it weren’t so full of flawed logic and self-serving inaccuracies. Filler seems to promote his personal preferences at the expense of future generations, all in a supposed effort to protect our civil liberties.

Filler quoted a British study showing that young people can safely smoke until age 30 with no adverse health effects. This study is encouraging for those who want to quit, but the point that is lost — and which Filler admits — is that it is extremely hard to quit. Very few people will smoke until they are 30 and then just toss out their cigarettes as easily as I’m gong to toss out his article tonight.

Putting up barriers to smoking for 19- and 20-year-olds has the secondary benefit of making it difficult for them to supply their friends who are 18 or younger.

Dr. Michael Melgar, Great Neck

We couldn’t disagree more with Lane Filler’s column. Not only is Suffolk County’s proposal “logical,” it would undoubtedly further decrease youth smoking rates and save lives.

Nearly 3,200 kids younger than 18 smoke their first cigarette each day. We know that nine out of 10 smokers started before they turned 18 and that 99 percent of smokers started before they turned 26.

Raising the purchase age is an important countermeasure to the tobacco industry’s relentless efforts to target young people when they are most vulnerable and can be more easily lured into a lifetime of addiction. If you disagree with our opinion, perhaps you could listen to Big Tobacco’s own words. An RJ Reynolds researcher stated, “If a man has never smoked by age 18, the odds are three-to-one he never will. By age 21, the odds are twenty-to-one.”

The U.S. surgeon general recently concluded that if youth smoking rates continue on their current trend, 5.6 million American kids younger than 18 today will die prematurely from tobacco-related disease. This suggests that we must do more than the status quo.

Michael Seilback, Hauppauge

Editor’s note: The writer is the vice president for public policy and communications for the American Lung Association of the Northeast.

I applaud Suffolk County Community College for wanting to ban tobacco use on its three campuses [“SCCC seeking smoking ban at its 3 campuses” News, Feb. 25].

The surgeon general recommends developing smoke-free environments to help decrease tobacco initiation. Helping reduce the number of people who smoke will lower health care costs from tobacco-related illnesses and save lives.

Christine Fardellone, East Meadow

Editor’s note: The writer is a registered nurse.

Potholes are one among the eyesores

I had to drive through Levittown via Hempstead Turnpike, and for a moment I wondered if I was in Lebanon, Nigeria or Afghanistan. The roads are riddled with giant potholes, making them virtually impossible to navigate [“Our roads need deep rebuilding,” Editorial, March 3].

The reason is poor road construction. Instead of using concrete to fill the potholes, crews throw down blacktop mixed with some pebbles, which may last a few months at best. That road is just one of hundreds in disrepair.

We are one of the most affluent and highly taxed counties in the country. We have manpower, equipment and money.

So why do we see garbage strewn about, potholes a foot deep and vacant buildings covered in graffiti? The situation is a disgrace.

Frank Bonanno, Massapequa Park

Mute swan study severely flawed

The state Department of Environmental Conservation asserts that its mute swan management plan, calling for the eradication of these swans from New York by 2025, had the support of the National Audubon Society [“NY rethinks plan to destroy swans,” News, March 1].

However, Four Harbors Audubon, a local chapter of Audubon New York, is opposed to the DEC mute swan management plan. We believe that the DEC has come to invalid conclusions, has misrepresented data analyses, has done poor sampling, and has frequently relied on dated and out-of-state references. The bottom line is that the report did a poor job of presenting data and correlating it to a valid conclusion.

There was no overall increase in the mute swan population, no significant devastation to aquatic vegetation, a lack of evidence regarding aggression toward other nesting waterfowl and only anecdotal references of aggressive behavior toward people.

Four Harbors Audubon recognizes the relative stability of the mute swan populations on Long Island and in the Hudson Valley. We support a regional approach for the management of mute swans in our state.

Elaine Maas

Susan Krause

St. James

Editor’s note: The writers are the education coordinator and president, respectively, of the Four Harbors Audubon Society of Smithtown, Stony Brook, Port Jefferson and Mount Sinai.