Four years since President Barack Obama signed into law the largest federal cigarette excise tax in history, he is considering another proposal that would bring the federal tax on cigarettes up to almost $2.
Right now, the federal tobacco tax is $1.01. There is also a state cigarette excise tax which, in North Carolina, is $0.45 per pack. The proposal, which was released late last month as a part of the fiscal year 2014 budget, would increase the federal tobacco tax by $0.94 per cigarette pack.
The proposal would direct the funds from the federal tax to early education across the country — $75 billion would go to states to support high-quality preschool education for a 10-year period.
Another $15 billion from the federal tax would expand voluntary programs, which educate low-income parents about child development through home visits from professionals, to target children younger than the age of 3.
“Early education helps children get a strong start,” said Karen Schulman, a senior analyst of the National Women’s Law Center.
The proposal was drafted by nine different organizations, including the National Women’s Law Center, the American Academy for Pediatrics and the American Lung Association.
Studies by the High/Scope Educational Research Foundation show that children who participate in high-quality early education programs are more likely to be successful in further educational pursuits and less likely to be involved in crime.
“North Carolina has been a leader in early childhood up until recently,” Schulman said.
But now, N.C. early education programs need to improve, she said.