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SAMHSA News - January/February 2005, Volume 13, Number 1

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 comprehensive strategies."

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 alejandro.arias@samhsa.hhs.govEnd of Article

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SAMHSA News - January/February 2005, Volume 13, Number 1

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