The most significant way to lower incidences of lung cancer is to reduce smoking. With that in mind, we applaud New York City and Suffolk County Legis. William Spencer (D-Centerport) for their efforts to increase the age for the legal sale of tobacco products to 21 ["Rise in smoking age eyed," News, Nov. 21].

Data suggest that 90 percent of smokers begin before they reach 21. Increasing the sale age will help reduce underage smoking by making it more difficult for youth to obtain tobacco products.

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We know that Big Tobacco will continue to spend millions of dollars a year marketing its deadly products, so to be effective in decreasing smoking, and the deadly toll of tobacco on New Yorkers, we need innovative public health policies. They will ultimately improve our health.

Coupled with a well-funded tobacco-control program, a high tobacco tax, and strong smoke-free laws indoors and outdoors, measures like this will help return New York to a leadership role in protecting its residents from tobacco.

Michael Seilback, Commack

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