Report: Tennessee children would benefit from tobacco tax

Report: Tennessee children would benefit from increased tobacco tax

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The plan calls for an increase of almost a dollar on the cigarette tax to help expand early childhood education. The plan calls for an increase of almost a dollar on the cigarette tax to help expand early childhood education.
"There are a lot of statistics that show that early childhood education helps kids get ahead when it comes to public school," said Vickey Beard. "There are a lot of statistics that show that early childhood education helps kids get ahead when it comes to public school," said Vickey Beard.

By DREW GARDNER
6 News Reporter

KNOXVILLE (WATE) - A new report was released Wednesday showing the benefits Tennessee could see if a controversial plan by President Obama is adopted.

The plan calls for an increase of almost a dollar on the cigarette tax to help expand early childhood education.

In his 2014 budget, President Obama proposed a plan to increase federal tobacco taxes by 94 cents, this time to make early childhood education available to more children.

A new report estimates in Tennessee during the first year alone, 7,861 children in low-to-moderate income families would have access to high quality preschool.

Vickey Beard is the director of Healthy Living for the YMCA of East Tennessee, one of nine major organizations who support the proposal.

"There are a lot of statistics that show that early childhood education helps kids get ahead when it comes to public school," said Beard.

Beard has seen first-hand the benefits of early education in children at the YMCA.

"In this day and age, our children need a leg up, because there is so much competition as they grow older," said Beard. "People are just better educated these days in terms of the whole picture in their lives."

"We know that if a child comes to school ready to learn they are more likely to stay in school," said Patrick Iannone with Save the Children. "If a child stays in school they are less likely as they get older to engage in at risk behavior like getting into drugs."

The program also aims to keep those same children from becoming smokers themselves.

"Most adults that smoke start before the age of 18, so trying to target that group in two ways is sort of the approach they are taking," said Beard.

As for the smokers who will be paying the taxes, supporters hope this will be the final push they need to finally quit.


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