New Report: Federal Tobacco Tax Would Be a Win-Win for Millions of Children

(September 25, 2013)

Smart Healthy Kids reportToday, the American Lung Association and eight other organizations that focus on public health and early learning released a new report that finds 1.7 million kids would be stopped from becoming smokers and two million low- and moderate-income children would have access to high-quality preschool under President Obama’s plan to expand early childhood education and fund it with an increase in the federal tobacco tax.

In his fiscal year 2014 budget, President Obama proposed expanding federal funding for early education programs, paid for with a 94-cent per pack increase in the federal cigarette tax and a proportional increase in the federal tax on other tobacco products. “Taken together, these two measures would help ensure a future of smart, healthy kids nationwide and in every state,” the report concludes.

“Keeping kids from starting to smoke is the single best thing that can be done to prevent lung diseases, including lung cancer and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease,” said Harold P. Wimmer, National President and CEO of the American Lung Association. “Increasing tobacco taxes is a lifesaver.”

The report details the educational and health benefits of the President’s proposal nationwide and in each state.  Nationwide, this proposal would:

  • Provide nearly 335,000 additional children from low- and moderate-income families with access to high-quality preschool programs in the first year alone. Two million children in low- and moderate-income families would have access to high-quality preschool in the 10th year.
  • Prevent 1.7 million kids from becoming addicted smokers and save nearly one million Americans from premature, smoking-caused death.

Health Benefits for Kids

The proposed increase in tobacco taxes would significantly reduce smoking and other tobacco use, which is the nation’s leading preventable cause of death. Tobacco use kills more than 400,000 Americans every year and costs the nation $96 billion in health care expenses. Every day, more than 3,500 U.S. youth try their first cigarette.

Research has shown that tobacco tax increases are the most effective way to reduce smoking, other tobacco use and related disease, deaths and costs. Tobacco tax increases have also proven to be a reliable source of significant additional revenue.

The proposed tobacco tax increases would:

  • Prompt 1.57 million adult smokers to quit in the first year.
  • Reduce the number of births affected by smoking by 465,600 over the next 10 years.
  • Save $63.4 billion in long-term health care costs due to the smoking declines.

Organizations releasing the report are the National Women’s Law Center, Save the Children, MomsRising, Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP), American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, American Heart Association, American Lung Association and American Academy of Pediatrics.

The report can be found at www.smarthealthykids.org.