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Letter: Find out why smokers started smoking, first

Erie County Legislature Chairman Peter Savage says “There is no such thing as ‘responsible’ smoking,” Really?

In the past five years of my 40-plus years as a volunteer emergency medical technician, I have been providing ACES awareness to some of my patients: Adverse Childhood Experience Survey and how it effects one’s health over a life time.

One of the question I ask, not in the survey, is at what age did they start smoking. Most started in early teens. I ask them if they knew tobacco is an antidepressant and anti-anxiety drug. Most don’t know this. Then I ask them what happened to them that they had to sedate themselves. Many have been sexually abused. More often they score high on the 10 ACE question. A score of six or more will take 20 years off your life according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s ACES publication of 1996.

How does one think that a teen can reach out for help with the weight of shame and the feeling of blame. Maybe taking that first cigarette is as far as they can reach for help. Before people demonize smokers, instead of asking them what’s wrong with them for smoking they should ask what happened to them.

The ACE survey consist of five household dysfunctions and five abuse and neglect questions. The one that blows me away is sexual abuse. Twenty percent of children before their 18th birthday will be sexually abused according to the CDC study of 17,000-plus participants of mainly upper middle class white America.

Money would be better spent on ACES awareness than attacking the symptom.

Peter A. Chiavetta


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