President Obama proposes federal tax hike for tobacco products

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Reporter - Robert Bradfield
Photojournalist - Justin Jones

PADUCAH - It's the smiles on the faces of her children that keep Paducah Head Start Director Frances Smith going.

"It's a good program," she said.  But next fiscal year, Smith will be without $87,000.  There will be no more snacks and technology improvements will be delayed.  Budget cuts are forcing Smith to make some changes.

"Since my time here, we have never had to cut this much money before.  In fact, we haven't had to cut any," Smith said.  

Some of that funding could be restored, through an unlikely source.  President Obama now wants smokers to help fund preschool programs.

"I've been smoking about 40 years and I've always smoked two to three packs of cigarettes a day," said Trent Woods.   He's one of the smokers the president is targeting.  "I just got done buying a cartoon of cigarettes and that carton of cigarettes cost me $36.  It probably won't last me a week," he said.

Woods admits he's got to stop.  He's had health problems, but he also supports paying more if that means helping fund education.  "I got two grand kids. One of them is in preschool right now, so I'm all for it," Woods said.

And for Smith, she's all for keeping in tact a program that has helped thousands of kids.  My ultimate fear is after this, our line item budget will be pretty much to the bone.  We will have to cut children slots," Smith said.

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