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WASHINGTON, D.C. -- A new report on a federal and state partnership aimed at ending illegal tobacco sales to minors indicates that efforts are paying off as tobacco sales to minors hit an all-time low.
According to the report by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) -- which sponsors the Synar Amendment program -- 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," SAMHSA Administrator Pamela S. Hyde said. "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."
Specifically, the report found that 12 of the 50 states and the District of Columbia achieved a retailer violation rate below 5 percent, up from nine states in fiscal year 2010. In addition, 34 states achieved a retailer violation rate below 10 percent.
According to SAMHSA, the reported state retailer violation rate was 72.7 percent at the Synar program's inception 15 years ago.
The Synar Amendment requires states and U.S. jurisdictions to have laws and enforcement programs for prohibiting the sale and distribution of tobacco to anyone 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.