A Win-Win for Children: Raising Smart, Healthy Kids

Sep 25, 2013

By Hannah Matthews

Together with eight early childhood and public health organizations, CLASP is releasing Raising Smart, Healthy Kids In Every State, a report that details the early childhood and health benefits of President Obama's plan to expand early education through an increase in federal tobacco taxes. Enacting this early learning proposal with an increase in federal tobacco taxes would eventually provide two million children a year with access to high-quality preschool and prevent 1.7 million kids from becoming smokers. 

President Obama's most recent budget proposal included a historic request for investment in early education programs, including universal pre-kindergarten for children in low-income families and voluntary home visiting for low-income parents and their young children. High-quality early childhood interventions are widely recognized as key to preparing young children for school success and improving the lifetime employment and earnings of low-income children.  Enthusiastic endorsement of the president's plan to invest in early education has come from a diverse set of stakeholders, including business leaders, law enforcement and Nobel Laureate in Economics, James Heckman. Even the public shows strong support for the proposal.

But in addition to the clear social, educational and economic benefits of such a significant investment in  early childhood, the president's initiative as designed would have an even larger impact on public health-and move us even further ahead as a country with policies that are good for our children.

The president proposes funding his early learning plan with an increase in the federal tobacco taxes. It turns out that public health research supports this pay-for: tobacco tax increases are one of the most effective ways to reduce smoking, and specifically to prevent smoking among youth. Just as our country would reap the rewards of a robust early education investment in economic gains for years to come, preventing children and youth from using tobacco and becoming smokers would have a long-term impact by preventing illness and early death from tobacco and reducing related health care costs for individuals and the public.

It's not often that the benefits of a policy initiative are so straightforward.

Investing in children-giving them a strong start and helping them live longer and be healthy-is a true win. 

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