In July 1992, Congress enacted the Alcohol, Drug Abuse, and Mental Health Administration Reorganization Act aimed at decreasing youth access to tobacco. This amendment, named for its sponsor, Congressman Mike Synar of Oklahoma. It requires states to enact and enforce laws prohibiting the sale or distribution of tobacco products to individuals under the age of 18.
Why Is This Important?
In 2013, just fewer than 12% of Michigan high school students were smoking cigarettes regularly. While this number has continued to decline over the last 10 years, 12% calculates to 63,000 teens still smoking. As a public health concern, smoking kills more people than alcohol, AIDS, car accidents, murder and suicide combined.
In addition, states must comply with the Synar Amendment in order to receive their full Substance Abuse Prevention and Treatment Block Grant awards. As a state we are subject to a 22.2 million dollar treatment and prevention block grant penalty if we exceed 20.0% fail rate of Synar checks. Several years ago, the State of Michigan almost lost funding because we had a failure rate of over 18%. Efforts were stepped up and we were able reduce our regions rate as well as the states.
Our coalitions are working with Synar Educators to help educate tobacco vendors in each county. The goal of vendor education is three-fold:
• Make an informal review of sign posting
• Reinforce education points from the SMART tobacco vendor brochure
• Ensure vendors understand their role in keeping tobacco out of youth’s hands
Our coalitions also assist with annual, unannounced vendor checks to ensure that tobacco is not provided to youth.