Retailers Cut Cigarette Sales to Youth
New data from SAMHSA surveys show that efforts to curb
retail sales of tobacco to persons under the age of 18
are having the desired effect—they're keeping tobacco
out of the hands of America's children. Overall, the
national retailer violation rate dropped to 12.8 percent
in reports submitted by states in 2004, down from 14.1
percent reported in 2003 and down from 40.1 percent since
the annual surveys began in 1996.
Results of the most recent survey show that 48 of the
50 states achieved the legislative goal of cutting retailer
sales of cigarettes to minors to no more than 20 percent.
Thirty-eight states achieved a retailer violation rate
of no more than 15 percent. In 21 states, the retailer
violation rate was 10 percent or below.
The survey's findings are based on reports submitted
by states in response to a Federal law established in
1992 restricting access to tobacco by youth under age
18. The law, known as the Synar Amendment, and its implementing
regulations require states and U.S. territories to enact
and enforce youth tobacco access laws; conduct annual
random, unannounced inspections of tobacco outlets; achieve
negotiated annual retailer violation targets; and attain
a final goal of 20 percent or below for retailer non-compliance.
"States that meet their Synar goals share certain
characteristics," SAMHSA Administrator Charles G.
Curie, M.A., A.C.S.W., said. "Generally, these states
employ a comprehensive strategy that combines vigorous
enforcement efforts, political support from the state
government, and a climate of active social norms that
discourage youth tobacco use. These states use merchant
and community education, media advocacy, and use of community
coalitions to mobilize support for restricting youth
access to tobacco. SAMHSA will continue to provide extensive
technical assistance to all states to implement these
Data reported in Fiscal Year 2004 indicate that the
District of Columbia failed to meet its negotiated retailer
violation target. The District government is committing
additional state funds for tobacco enforcement as an
alternative to losing part of its SAMHSA block grant
funding, as specified in the law. Two other states, Kansas
and Texas, did not reach the 20-percent goal, but were
within the margin of error allowed by SAMHSA.
For more information, visit prevention.samhsa.gov/tobacco.
For questions on program requirements or the data being
reported, contact Alejandro Arias, SAMHSA's Synar Program
Coordinator, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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