In July 1992 the U.S. Congress enacted the Alcohol, Drug Abuse and Mental Health Administration Reorganization Act. This legislation included a special amendment focused on lowering the access youth would have to tobacco (Synar).  The amendment required all 50 states; the District of Columbia and the eight U.S. Territories to develop enact and enforce laws to prohibit the sale or distribution of tobacco products to individuals under the age of 18.  This amendment was developed due to increasing evidence concerning health problems related to tobacco use by youth along with the evidence of ease at which youth could purchase tobacco products.

Consequences for Non-Compliance (Violation Rates)

The Federal Government has a high level of concern for underage tobacco use and access prevention and thus has imposed consequences for non-compliance that are extremely rigid.  The penalty for a state being non-compliant would result in a loss of up to 40 percent of its Substance Abuse Prevention and Treatment (SAPT) Block Grant funding. This could mean losses of several millions of dollars for each state not in compliance.  The Department of Substance Abuse and Mental Services Administration and the Center for Substance Abuse Prevention (SAMHSA/CSAP) are tasked with overseeing the States’ use of the Synar legislation.

The rates reported for Oklahoma’s non-compliance has varied over the years. The initial rates for Oklahoma Federal Fiscal Year 1998 (FFY98) showed Oklahoma at 30%. The Oklahoma rate for non-compliance for FFY 2008 was 12.5%. The non-compliance rate indicated for FFY 2009 was 17.9%. The non-compliance rate for FFY 2010 was 9.4%.  The non-compliance rate for FFY 2011 is 11.5%.  In FY10 the ERI/APRC visited 150 stores. We had a 92.7% pass rate or 7.3% violation rate in Oklahoma County. In FY11 we have visited 192 stores and presently have a pass rate of 92.2% or 7.8% violation rate.

 Note: The national target rate for the Synar Program has been 20% since FFY 2000. The amendment that lead to the Synar Legislation was named after its sponsor, U.S. Congressman, Mike Synar of Oklahoma.