The current U.S. Surgeon General's report stresses the need for immediate, more effective action to prevent our youth from starting to smoke, as the key to ending this epidemic of disease and death afflicting our society ["CDC to debut graphic anti-smoking ads, News, March 16].

Eighty-eight percent of adult smokers started by age 18, and 99 percent started by age 26, resulting in long-term addiction and early serious health afflictions that escalate to horrible disease and death.

The tobacco restrictions implemented in recent years have proved effective in decreasing tobacco consumption, but they haven't gone far enough. Spending on cigarette marketing is 48 percent higher than in 1998. Our youth are still subjected to a blitz of tobacco ads and promos. Many gas stations look more like tobacco properties. Tobacco products are in everyday stores, including stationery and food stores. Their presence is most appalling in pharmacies which, by definition, are places that sell drugs (medicinal) to enhance health.

Tobacco products should be confined to tobacco shops. We should also intensify measures that have proved effective in preventing smoking, such as mass media campaigns, comprehensive bans on cigarette advertising, smoke-free public places, increased tobacco prices, community and school programs, and reducing smoking in movies.

Claire Millman, Plainview

Editor's note: The writer is president of the Alliance For Smoke-Free Air, an advocacy organization.

One way we can do more to stop teen smoking is to ban cigarette sales, just as we ban marijuana. More people die from smoking than from human immunodeficiency virus, illegal drug use, alcohol use, motor vehicle injuries, suicides and murders combined. Yet our government refuses to shut down the tobacco industry.

Are corporate profits and tax revenue more important than human lives?

JoAnn Radesca, West Babylon