I applaud Legis. Judy Jacobs (D-Woodbury) for wanting to ban the sale of tobacco products to anyone under the age of 21 ["Jacobs steps up push for tobacco-sale ban," News, Nov. 11]. If trends in smoking initiation continue, smoking-related illness will kill about 5.6 million young people alive today, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.Smoking is a leading cause of preventable death and disease in our country. Tobacco control policies, such as raising taxes on cigarettes and removing tobacco products from pharmacies, increase cessation rates and decrease youth initiation.

Working as a certified tobacco treatment specialist, I hear from patients who wish they hadn't had access to cigarettes as teenagers and young adults. Their lives are often filled with illness, regret and the difficult experience of trying to quit.

Christine Fardellone, East Meadow

Editor's note: The writer is a doctor of nursing practice.

Fine Dem judges lost their seats

This past election, we lost several judges whose intelligence, integrity and diligence were truly credits to the legal system, and only because the Democratic Party took a major hit.

The relationship between party affiliation and judicial temperament has always been a mystery to me. Judges are supposed to move their calendars along with fairness and alacrity and decide cases by applying -- or instructing juries to apply -- the relevant law to the facts. As every litigator knows, some members of the bench are better at this than others.

But a judge's ability to properly exercise his or her discretion has less than nothing to do with politics. Party alignment is ingrained in the vote for judges because the public has no way to discern between candidates.

This begs my ultimate question: Why should non-lawyers vote on judges? The ultimate answer: They shouldn't.

Josh Kardisch, East Meadow

Editor's note: The writer is a lawyer who has appeared before many judges in state Supreme Court in Nassau County and Nassau County District Court, mostly in personal injury and commercial lawsuits.

Heading for ban of 9-mm pistols?

In response to "The gun that worries cops the most" [News, Nov. 16], it would seem that anti-gun sights have been squarely set on restricting semi-automatic pistols, following passage of the ultra-draconian Secure Ammunition and Firearms Enforcement Act.

These 9-mm pistols have been prevalent in American society for 30 years. In that time, what is identified as the "weapon of choice" of criminals ebbs and flows. In reality, a criminal's choice depends on availability.

In the wake of recent shootings, attention and resources should be focused not on the firearm used, but on the true cause of the problem: a person suffering from undiagnosed and untreated mental illness.

Laurence C. Dittmer, Levittown

Editor's note: The writer is a certified firearms instructor.

This story stated that the 9-mm pistol is the weapon of choice for criminals and terrorists across the nation, according to the police.

If the police, who are experts in this matter, say it's the 9-mm pistol, why do the politicians continuously blame assault weapons?

Ray Steinberg, East Northport

No excuse adequate to avoid voting

I was disheartened to read the excuses for not voting offered by two letter writers ["Readers say why they didn't vote," Nov. 12].

One laments the lack of quality candidates, but that's no excuse. There are paper ballots where one can write in any name.

The other writer says he hasn't voted in a national election since 1984. He blames the system but says that he would vote if leaders of other countries, such as China, were eligible because they don't bomb or invade other countries. He would rather have the leader of one of the world's most repressive regimes?

When enough people find enough excuses not to vote, America will be lost.

Robert Nielsen, Baldwin

Guv should step in on assessments

Your editorial "Gun to-do list for Long Island" [Nov. 10] left out the urgent need to reform the Nassau County property assessment system.

After five years, the Mangano administration has been unable to stop the hemorrhaging of millions of dollars for tax refunds for so-called erroneous assessments. The administration has recently announced that it will be borrowing more for this purpose.

The assessment process has been hijacked by a small group of lawyers and tax companies. Nassau is the only county in the state with a broken assessment system, and it can only be fixed by the governor's intervention.

Harvey B. Levinson, Boca Raton, Florida

Editor's note: The writer, a Democrat, was Nassau County assessor from 2004 to 2008.

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