ATLANTA (GA) – Georgia continues to meet its goal of curtailing sales of tobacco to underage youth (those under 18) according to the FY2012 Annual Synar Report. The Department of Behavioral Health & Developmental Disabilities (DBHDD) is in good standing with federal law and the Georgia Department of Revenue (DOR) because 90 percent of Georgia retailers refused to sell tobacco to minors.
“The Synar program continuously educates retailers on the importance of checking ID regarding of how old someone may appear to be,” said Cassandra Price, M.B.A., Executive Director of DBHDD’s Division of Addictive Diseases. “Retailers are the gate keepers in keeping tobacco out the hands of our children and we are pleased they are willing to provide us assistance in this regard.”
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.
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/synar-tobacco-prevention.