Millions of Children Would Benefit from President's Plan to Expand Early Education with Tobacco Tax Increase, New Report Shows

Washington, D.C. (September 25, 2013)

President Obama’s plan to expand early childhood education and fund it with an increase in federal tobacco taxes would ensure that two million low- and moderate-income children have access to high-quality preschool and prevent 1.7 million kids from becoming smokers, according to a report released today by nine organizations that focus on early learning and/or public health.

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.

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.

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.

Summary of Report Findings

Less than half of four-year-olds are currently enrolled in public preschool programs, and many of these programs are not high quality. Numerous studies show that children who have a high-quality preschool experience perform better on cognitive tests in elementary and secondary school, are more likely to graduate from high school, go to college, be employed and be in good health, and are less likely to become involved with crime or have to rely on public assistance.

The President’s proposal would establish a state-federal partnership to support early learning opportunities for children from birth to age five. It would guarantee access to high-quality preschool for children in low- and moderate-income families (families with incomes at or below 200 percent of poverty). It would also increase support for families with infants and toddlers by expanding voluntary home visiting programs that offer parent education and support for vulnerable families.

The report presents findings on the significant early learning benefits that would result from the tobacco tax. This initiative would:

  • Provide $75 billion to the states for preschool over 10 years, including $2.74 billion in the first year.
  • Provide $15 billion to the states for expanded voluntary home visiting programs over 10 years, including $433.4 million in the first year.
  • Support up to 1.13 million low-income women who give birth each year and their children through the voluntary home visiting program.

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.

Quotes from Sponsoring Organizations

“This report powerfully demonstrates the multiple ways in which our children would benefit from the President’s proposal to expand early education with revenue from a tobacco tax increase. This proposal would provide millions of kids with a strong start in life, while helping them live longer, healthier lives free of tobacco addiction,” said Susan M. Liss, Executive Director of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids.

“It’s shameful that in a country that prides itself on the American Dream millions of four-year-olds are losing a critical jump start to their education,” said Nancy Duff Campbell, Co-President of the National Women’s Law Center. “It’s time to put more children on a sure path to success. The evidence is clear: when kids are exposed to early learning, they do better in school and have a greater chance of becoming productive adults. Let’s finally do right by our children and our country by moving this proposal forward now.”

“The President’s proposal to expand early education with an increase in the federal tobacco tax would save lives and prepare our children for academic success,” said Chris Hansen, president of the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN). “This report should compel lawmakers to support the President’s proposal because it demonstrates the dramatic educational and health benefits children in every state would receive.”

“Today’s report, like others before it, highlights how increasing the cost of tobacco products helps encourage adults to quit smoking and protects the next generation from ever taking up this dangerous addiction,” said American Heart Association CEO, Nancy Brown. “We must use every tool at our disposal to defeat the public health menace that is tobacco. President Obama’s proposal will not only move us closer to a tobacco-free nation, it will also teach our children to engage in healthy habits that will help them live free of cardiovascular disease and stroke.”

“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.”

CLASP, a nonprofit anti-poverty policy center, stands firmly behind President Obama’s plan to expand early education through the use of a federal tobacco tax. The science is clear: young children – and most especially those from low- and moderate-income families – benefit from high-quality early learning experiences. Moreover, millions of working, low-income parents also benefit when they can go to work knowing that their children are getting quality early childhood education. As a nation, we have a shared goal of giving everybody a fair shake. This proposal does just that by giving all children the best possible start on the education they need to become productive adults, parents and workers,” said Olivia Golden, Executive Director, CLASP (the Center on Law and Social Policy).

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About the American Lung Association
The American Lung Association is the leading organization working to save lives by improving lung health and preventing lung disease, through research, education and advocacy. The work of the American Lung Association is focused on four strategic imperatives: to defeat lung cancer; to improve the air we breathe; to reduce the burden of lung disease on individuals and their families; and to eliminate tobacco use and tobacco-related diseases.  For more information about the American Lung Association, a holder of the Better Business Bureau Wise Giving Guide Seal, or to support the work it does, call 1-800-LUNGUSA (1-800-586-4872) or visit: www.Lung.org.