DBHDD Synar program contributes to national all-time low tobacco sale of minors

July 11, 2011

ATLANTA (GA) - Georgia is in good standing with federal law because retailers refused to sell tobacco to minors according to information released in the FY2010 Annual Synar Report (ASR). The Georgia Department of Behavioral Health & Developmental Disabilities (DBHDD) and the Georgia Department of Revenue (DOR) found that Georgia retailers are six percent below the national weighted Retailer Violation Rate (RVR) limit of 20 percent. Federal law prohibits the sale of tobacco products to minors.

“The Synar program continues to educate retailers on the importance of checking ID to prevent minors from unlawfully gaining access to tobacco products,” said Cassandra Price, M.B.A., Executive Director of DBHDD’s Division of Addictive Diseases. “Retailers play a key role in deterring minors from using tobacco, which curtails nicotine addiction and major health risks associated with smoking.”

All states monitor retailers who are directly accessible to youth. If violation figures exceed the national limit of 20 percent, funding offered to reduce Substance Abuse Prevention and Treatment Block Grant funds could be reduced. Georgia has remained well under the mandate since the Office of Prevention Services Program assumed responsibility for Synar five years ago.

“We are consistently seeking to assure that Georgia remains in compliance with this federal mandate, not only because it’s the law, but because it promotes drug prevention,” said Travis Fretwell, Assistant Executive Director, Division of Addictive Diseases.

Substance abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s (SAMHSA) Center for Substance Abuse and Prevention (CSAP) oversees implementation of the Synar Amendment, which requires states to establish and enforce laws prohibiting the sale and distribution of tobacco products to youth under the age of 18. CSAP requires each state to conduct annual random, unannounced inspections to ensure compliance with the law and to submit an Annual Synar Report detailing the State's activities in enforcing their law.

The Georgia DOR provides enforcement of OCGA 16-12-170 through OCGA 16-12-176 which prohibits the sale, distribution to or possession of tobacco products by minors, including but not limited to issuing administrative citations, pursuing criminal prosecutions, and conducting inspections where tobacco products are sold or distributed. Penalties for retail outlets found to be selling tobacco products to minors begin at $300 and go up depending on the number of times an outlet is found to be selling tobacco products to youth under the age of 18.

To read Georgia’s Synar Report, please visit http://dbhdd.georgia.gov/prevention.

Contact Information: 
Kristie Swink (knswink@dbhdd.ga.gov)