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Newsday letters to the editor for Wednesday, May 2, 2018

A 2016 view of the old grist mill

A 2016 view of the old grist mill on Old Northern Boulevard in Roslyn. Credit: Steven Sunshine

NY’s horse racing is not a dying industry

Your April 17 editorial “Nassau fortunes ride on Albany” speaks of the “bickering about a $3 million payment” Nassau County Off-Track Betting owes the county. It describes the rather arcane revenue-sharing agreement among OTB, Resorts World Casino and New York’s horse racing industry. Albany, it says, “must stop throwing charity at the dying racing industry.”

Wrong. The industry is not dying, especially in New York. The editorial board should look at the facts before writing our obituary.

Can an industry with a total output to the New York economy of $5.3 billion be dying? That’s $3.08 billion from the racing sector alone. Can an industry that provides our state with 42,400 full-time jobs be dying? Can the second-largest agribusiness in New York, just behind dairy, be dying?

New York racing is the best in the world, and it’s big business, a vibrant business. So, please keep your respirators. To paraphrase Mark Twain, reports of our death have been greatly exaggerated.

Tom Durkin, Elmont

Editor’s note: The writer is a retired race caller for the New York Racing Association and a board member of the New York Thoroughbred Horseman’s Association.

Now move on to ban plastic straws

Suffolk County’s move to charge 5 cents per bag in some stores looks successful, according to your April 20 news story “Survey: Shoppers’ acceptance is in the bag.” The story says 43 percent of shoppers now bring reusable bags, up from only 5 percent before Jan. 1.

Now we should consider banning plastic straws, even recyclable ones. Most are not recycled; they eventually break into the tiny bits that marine life and shore birds can ingest to lethal ends. America uses a stunning 500 million straws a day, an average of 1.6 straws a person per day.

The United Kingdom will soon ban plastic straws. McDonald’s there is switching to paper straws and will provide straws only upon request.

We would do well to consider a local ban. Right now, individuals can join the no-straw movement by requesting this in restaurants and bars. Much of our economy and recreation is tied to its waters and beaches. We would be wise to protect them.

Elisa Hendrey, Sound Beach

Editor’s note: The writer is a member of the Sierra Club and Appalachian Mountain Club.

Restore water wheel at Roslyn grist mill

The plan to restore the marble statue at Gerry Park in North Hempstead and build a plaza around it is fine [“A plaza to call its own,” News, April 24].

What I would also urgently like to see is the restoration of the water wheel from the Roslyn grist mill. I loved this as a child. Children today might well ask what happened to it.

I’ve been in contact with North Hempstead and Roslyn officials about this.

Jerry Mintz, Roslyn Heights

Nassau should raise age to buy tobacco

I was glad to see Newsday’s editorial board recognize the need for Nassau County to raise the age for the sale of tobacco products [“On cigs, Nassau should go to 21,” Editorial, April 24].

Nassau is the last place from Montauk to Cape May, New Jersey, where an 18-year-old can legally buy a pack of cigarettes. The Nassau County Legislature should act quickly to drop that distinction.

Tobacco use remains the leading cause of preventable death and disease in our nation, and I applaud Presiding Officer Richard Nicolello for recognizing the dangers posed to our young people by e-cigarettes and other tobacco products. The National Academy of Medicine found that increasing the minimum age of sale for tobacco products to 21 could prevent 223,000 deaths among people born from 2000 to 2019, including 50,000 fewer dying from lung cancer, the nation’s leading cancer killer. To those against this bill, I ask, how many Long Islanders might be among them?

A Nassau County law would send a loud and clear signal to Albany to put this age restriction into effect statewide.

Michael Seilback, Hauppauge

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