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SAMHSA News Release

Date: 8/27/2013 12:05 AM
Media Contact: SAMHSA Press Office
Telephone: 240-276-2130

State/federal effort to reduce illegal tobacco sales to minors shows continued success


A new report on the Synar Amendment program – a federal and state partnership aimed at ending illegal tobacco sales to minors -- shows that all the states and the District of Columbia have continued to meet their goals of curtailing sales of tobacco to underage youth (those under 18).  The report by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), which sponsors the Synar program shows that the average national retailer violation rate of tobacco sales is 9.1 percent – significantly below the 20 percent target rate set by the program. While this rate represents an increase from the year before, it is the second lowest retailer violation rate in the history of the Synar program.

“Over its 16 year history the Synar program has made remarkable strides in lowering the levels of illegal tobacco sales to minors across the nation , but far more needs to be done to prevent kids and young adults from using tobacco, which is still the nation’s leading cause of preventable death,” said Frances Harding, director of SAMHSA’s Center for Substance Abuse Prevention. 

The Synar Amendment (introduced by the late Representative Mike Synar of Oklahoma and enacted as Section 1926 of the federal Public Health Service Act) requires states and U.S. jurisdictions to have laws and enforcement programs for prohibiting the sale and distribution of tobacco to persons under 18. The program is part of SAMHSA’s strategic initiative on preventing substance abuse and mental illness.

Under the regulation implementing the Synar Amendment, states and U.S. jurisdictions must report annually to SAMHSA on their retailer violation rates, which represent the percentage of inspected retail outlets that illegally sold tobacco products to youth.

For the seventh year in a row, all states met their Synar required goals – in fact:

·         Nine of the 50 states achieved a retailer violation rate below five percent.

·         33 states and the District of Columbia achieved a retailer violation rate below 10 percent.

By contrast the highest reported state retailer violation rate was 72.7 percent when the Synar program was established 16 years ago.

Further information about the Synar program including a breakdown of retailer violation rates in the 50 states, the District of Columbia and the territories is available at: http://www.samhsa.gov/prevention/synar.aspx .


The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) is the agency within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services that leads public health efforts to advance the behavioral health of the nation. SAMHSA's mission is to reduce the impact of substance abuse and mental illness on America's communities.



Last updated: 8/26/2013 1:54 PM

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