Groups advocate funding early childhood education with cigarette tax increase

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SALT LAKE CITY – Utah health professionals and officials are supporting a proposed increase to the federal tobacco tax that would generate funds for education.

Representatives from Voices for Utah Children, Primary Children’s Medical Center and the Weber-Morgan Health Department gathered at the Utah Capitol building to release the results of a report that they said shows the benefits of expanding early childhood education through funds raised by increasing taxes on tobacco.

The efforts stem from a proposal by President Barack Obama to expand early childhood education, which would be funded by the tax increase. President Obama proposed an increase of 94 cents per pack in his 2014 budget plan.

Anna Guymon of the Weber-Morgan Health Department said the increase would help fund programs and also help decrease use of the deadly product.

“We know that when the price goes up, youth use goes down, and youth initiation of these products goes down,” she said. “I see the impact that tobacco use has in my community on a daily basis. Tobacco use causes suffering, death and disability.”

According to a report released by nine different organizations focusing on early learning and/or childhood health, the proposal would eventually ensure that about two million low and moderate-income children would have access to high-quality preschool, and it would prevent an estimated 1.7 million kids from becoming smokers.

For more information and the full report, click here.

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