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Michigan Continues to Achieve Goals to Restrict Tobacco Sales to Minors Under the Synar Program

Michigan Continues to Achieve Goals to Restrict Tobacco Sales to Minors Under the Synar Program – A State/Federal Partnership

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) recently announced that all the states and the District of Columbia have continued to meet their goals of curtailing sales of tobacco to underage youth (under 18). However, according to SAMHSA, in federal fiscal year 2009, for the first time ever, the data indicates a slight increase in the average national rate of tobacco sales to underage youth of about one percent - 9.9 percent to 10.9 percent. Michigan continues to see a downward trend. Michigan's tobacco sales rate to minors in 2009 was 14.1 percent, down from 41 percent in 1997 and 15.3 percent in 2008.

States' goals, set under the Synar Amendment program – a federal and state partnership, are aimed at ending illegal tobacco sales to minors. 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 implement laws and enforcement programs for prohibiting the sale and distribution of tobacco to persons under the age of 18. The program is part of SAMHSA's Strategic Initiative to promote emotional health and prevent 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 products to a customer under the age of 18. Failure to meet the standard retailer violation rate set forth in the Synar Amendment could cause states to lose up to 40 percent of their SAMHSA Substance Abuse Prevention and Treatment Block Grant funding. For Michigan, failure to achieve the retailer violation rate could mean a potential loss of $23,000,000 in federal funding.