Tobacco Sales to Minors Cut to All-Time Low

For the first time, all 50 states and the District of Columbia have achieved an 80 percent compliance rate among retailers who sell tobacco products, one of the goals of the Synar Amendment program -– a federal and state partnership program that is trying to end illegal tobacco sales to minors, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration announced Oct. 5. Tobacco sales to minors are now at all-time lows, the agency said.

A decade ago, when the program began, the lowest reported compliance rate was 25 percent. "This report on decreasing tobacco sales to minors shows state tobacco control efforts are working," said Terry Cline, Ph.D., SAMHSA's administrator. "States have done an extraordinary job over the last 10 years in helping us stem illegal tobacco sales to minors. Together, we are making great strides in protecting our children from the death and disability that accompanies tobacco use."

SAMHSA's 2006 Synar report shows the average national tobacco retailer violation rate dropped to 10.9 percent, down from 40.1 percent in 1997. The program is named for the late U.S. Rep. Mike Synar, D-Oklahoma, who died of brain cancer in January 1996. States and jurisdictions must report annually to SAMHSA on their retailer violation rates, which are the percentage of inspected retail outlets that sold tobacco to a customer younger than 18. The amendment requires violation rates to be 20 percent or less.

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