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 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 promoting emotional health and preventing substance abuse and mental illness.
Under the regulations implementing the Synar Amendment, states and other jurisdictions must report annually to SAMHSA on their retailer violation rates, which represent the percentage of inspected retail outlets that sold tobacco product to a customer under the age of 18.
Over the last 13 years, data reported by states has indicated a clear downward trend towards reducing tobacco sales to minors. However, in federal fiscal year 2009, the average national retailer violation rate of tobacco sales to minors has increased from a historic low of 9.9 percent in 2008 to a rate of 10.9 percent in 2009.
In 2009, 43 of the 51 states and Washington, D.C. achieved rates below 15.0 percent, down from 46 states in 2008, and
Twenty-two (22) of the 51 achieved rates below 10.0 percent, down from 26 states in 2008.
These rates continue to stand in sharp contrast with the situation 13 years ago at the Synar program’s inception when the highest reported retailer violation rate was 72.7 percent.
According to the report, reasons for the slight increase in violation rates may include the cutbacks in state enforcement programs due to the economy and budget reductions.
In order to sustain the declines in tobacco sales to minors, SAMHSA is working closely with states to determine ways to fund enforcement, including the use of local tobacco licensing to help fund enforcement. Additionally, Congress included a provision in the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act, which was signed into law by President Obama on June 22, 2009, that has the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to the extent feasible, contract with states to carry out inspections of retailers in connection with the enforcement of the Act, including enforcement of the new Federal youth access regulations. The FDA is expected to begin contracting with states to enforce these laws this summer (2010). http://www.fda.gov/TobaccoProducts/ProtectingKidsfromTobacco/default.htm)
The Synar Amendment supports the national Healthy People 2010 objective to reduce the illegal sales rate to minors through enforcement of laws prohibiting the sale of tobacco products to minors.
The FFY2009 Annual Synar Reports: State Compliance, which includes compliance rates for each of the states and the District of Columbia, as well as a section on compliance rates for the U.S. Jurisdictions, is available at http://prevention.samhsa.gov/tobacco/synarreportfy2009.pdf. For related publications and information, visit http://www.samhsa.gov/.
Media Contact: SAMHSA Press Office