U.S. Senator Frank R. Lautenberg (D-NJ) today applauded President Obama for including in his budget a plan to expand families' access to high-quality pre-kindergarten programs and proposing to fund the expansion with revenues from a 94-cent increase in federal taxes on every pack of cigarettes.
"The President has laid out a smart plan that would brighten children's futures by dramatically increasing access to early education," Lautenberg said. "Expanding pre-K will touch every community in America and ensure that all children have the opportunity to develop the skills they need to succeed in elementary school and beyond. Paying for this critical investment with cigarette taxes also helps young people, because we know that when cigarette prices go up, youth tobacco consumption goes down."
Senator Lautenberg has championed legislation to ensure that the federal government and states recover tobacco tax revenues, which currently provide funding for children's health programs, by cracking down on tax evasion from tobacco smuggling. Last Congress, Senator Lautenberg joined Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Congressman Lloyd Doggett (D-TX) to introduce the Smuggled Tobacco Prevention (STOP) Act, legislation that would help collect the billions of dollars in revenue that the Department of Justice estimates is lost due to the serious and growing problem of illegal tobacco trafficking. Lautenberg is working to reintroduce the legislation in the 113th Congress.
Lautenberg is a longtime Senate leader in the fight against Big Tobacco and authored the landmark law that banned smoking on domestic airline flights.