New Report Shows Plan to Expand Hawaii Early Education With Tobacco Tax Increase

President Obama has proposed to expand early childhood education and fund it with an increase in federal tobacco taxes. 

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In Hawaii, this initiative would provide 853 more children from low- and moderate-income families with access to high-quality preschool in the first year alone and prevent 4,700 kids from becoming addicted smokers, according to a report released today by nine organizations that focus on early learning and/or public health.

Additional Hawaii benefits include:

  • Additional funds provided for preschool in the first year: $7 million
  • Residents saved from premature, smoking-caused deaths: 2,400

In his fiscal year 2014 budget, President Obama proposed to expand 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 can be found at www.smarthealthykids.org.  It details the educational and health benefits of the President’s proposal nationwide and in every state.

Nationwide, the President’s proposal would ensure that two million children in low- and moderate-income families have access to high-quality preschool and prevent 1.7 million kids from becoming addicted smokers.

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.

Background

The President’s proposal would address two major challenges facing America’s children: Too few have access to high-quality preschool programs, while too many still smoke.

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 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 bills.  Every day, more than 3,500 U.S. youth try their first cigarette.

 

National Report: Hawaii Ranks 5th in Protecting Kids from Tobacco

Hawaii ranks 5th in the nation in funding programs to prevent kids from smoking and help smokers quit, according to a national report released today by a coalition of public health organizations.

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Hawaii currently spends $8.9 million a year on tobacco prevention and cessation programs, which is 58.8 percent of the $15.2 million recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Other key findings for Hawaii include:

Hawaii this year will collect $186 million in revenue from the 1998 tobacco settlement and tobacco taxes, but will spend just 4.8 percent of it on tobacco prevention programs. This means Hawaii is spending less than 5 cents of every dollar in tobacco revenue to fight tobacco use.

The tobacco companies spend $24.7 million a year to market their products in Hawaii. This is 3 times what the state spends on tobacco prevention.

The annual report on states’ funding of tobacco prevention programs, titled “Broken Promises to Our Children: The 1998 State Tobacco Settlement 14 Years Later,” was released by the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, American Heart Association, American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, American Lung Association, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and Americans for Nonsmokers’ Rights.

Hawaii has been a leader in the fight against tobacco with a high cigarette tax ($3.20 per pack), a strong smoke-free workplace law and its tobacco prevention and cessation program. However, the state this year cut funding for tobacco prevention by 17 percent. Hawaii has one of the lowest high school smoking rates in the nation at 10.1 percent, compared to 18.1 percent who smoke nationally.

“Hawaii has been a leader in the fight against tobacco, but needs to sustain its commitment to tobacco prevention in order to continue making progress,” said Matthew L. Myers, President of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. “Even in these difficult budget times, tobacco prevention is a smart investment for Hawaii that protects kids, saves lives and saves money by reducing tobacco-related health care costs.”

In Hawaii, 1,500 more kids become regular smokers each year. Tobacco annually claims 1,100 lives and costs the state $336 million in health care bills.

Nationally, the report finds that most states are failing to adequately fund tobacco prevention and cessation programs. Key national findings include:

The states this year will collect $25.7 billion from the tobacco settlement and tobacco taxes, but will spend just 1.8 percent of it – $459.5 million – on tobacco prevention programs. This means the states are spending less than two cents of every dollar in tobacco revenue to fight tobacco use.

States are falling woefully short of the CDC’s recommended funding levels for tobacco prevention programs. Altogether, the states have budgeted just 12.4 percent of the $3.7 billion the CDC recommends.

Only two states – Alaska and North Dakota – currently fund tobacco prevention programs at the CDC-recommended level.

As the nation implements health care reform, the report warns that states are missing a golden opportunity to reduce tobacco-related health care costs, which total $96 billion a year in the U.S. One study found that during the first 10 years of its tobacco prevention program, Washington state saved more than $5 in tobacco-related hospitalization costs for every $1 spent on the program.

Tobacco use is the leading preventable cause of death in the U.S., killing more than 400,000 people each year

More information, including the full report and state-specific information, can be obtained at www.tobaccofreekids.org/reports/settlements .