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Synar Program


In July 1992, Congress enacted the Alcohol, Drug Abuse, and Mental Health Administration Reorganization Act (P.L. 102-321), which includes the Synar Amendment (section 1926), aimed at decreasing youth access to tobacco. This amendment, named for its sponsor, Congressman Mike Synar of Oklahoma, requires states, territories, and the District of Columbia to enact and enforce laws prohibiting the sale or distribution of tobacco products to individuals under age 18 years. To determine compliance with the legislation, the amendment requires each state and U.S. jurisdiction to conduct annual, random, unannounced inspections of retail tobacco outlets and to report the findings to the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS). States that do not comply with the requirements set forth in the amendment are subject to a penalty of 40 percent of their Federal Substance Abuse Prevention and Treatment (SAPT) Block Grant funding. Because it plays a lead federal role in substance abuse prevention, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) was charged with implementing the Synar Amendment. In January 1996, SAMHSA issued the Synar Regulation to provide guidance to the states. SAMHSA annually compiles the sales violation rates from each state and territory as part of its Annual Synar Report.

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Center for Substance Abuse Prevention
Data Years Available: 
Federal Fiscal Year 1997-present
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States (and territories) measure their progress in reducing youth access to tobacco via annual, random, unannounced inspections (also known as the Synar survey). These inspections must include at least 80 percent of tobacco outlets in the state and sample both over-the-counter and vending machine locations accessible to youth. The sample size must be large enough to meet precision requirements and the completion rate must be at least 90 percent. SAMHSA, through its Center for Substance Abuse Prevention (CSAP), Division of State Programs, annually reviews each state’s Synar survey and results, and provides technical assistance to help states comply with the requirements.

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Data are reported by Federal Fiscal Year.