Underage Tobacco Sales Falls To All-Time Low

(Thursday, August 2nd, 2012)

Sales of tobacco to minors in the U.S. reached an all-time low in 2011 under a federal and state inspection program intended to curb underage tobacco use, according to a report released Thursday.

The violation rate of tobacco sales to underage youth at retailers nationwide has fallen from about 40 percent in 1997 to 8.5 percent in the last fiscal year, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration.

The rate is based on the results of random, unannounced inspections conducted at stores to see whether they’d sell tobacco products to a customer under the age of 18.

Following is a press release by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration:

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 down to 8.5 percent, the lowest level in the history of the program.

“ As the recent Surgeon General’s Report on Preventing Tobacco Use Among Youth and Young Adults notes, smoking is the nation’s leading cause of preventable death. We must pursue every opportunity to prevent kids and young adults of today from becoming life-long adult smokers of tomorrow ,” said SAMHSA Administrator Pamela S. Hyde. “The success of the Synar program is a testament to how preventing underage youth from gaining illegal access to tobacco products can have a tremendous impact.”

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 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 sold tobacco products to a customer under the age of 18.

For the sixth year in a row, no state was found out of compliance with the Synar regulation – in fact:

· 12 of the 51 states achieved a retailer violation rate below 5 percent, up from 9 states in fiscal year 2010.
· 34 states achieved a retailer violation rate below 10 percent.

These rates continue to stand in sharp contrast with the situation 15 years ago at the Synar program’s inception when the highest reported state retailer violation rate was 72.7 percent.

Another tobacco related report released today by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows sharp increases in total consumption of cigars and loose tobacco products last year offset the decline in total cigarette consumption . The CDC report found that while total cigarette consumption continued an 11-year downward trend with a 2.5 percent decline from 2010 to 2011, total consumption of other forms of smoked tobacco products was up more than 17 percent last year.

(YWN Desk – NYC)


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