Retailers Meet Goal in Preventing Tobacco Sales to Minors

Tom-Briant-PictureNATO Executive Director Thomas Briant discusses the policies that have been successful in curbing cigarette sales to minors.

By John Lofstock, Editor

A new report just released by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) indicates retailers continue to meet federal mandates banning tobacco sales to youths under the age of 18.

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Tom Briant, executive director of the National Association of Tobacco Outlets sat down with Convenience Store Decisions to discuss the significance of the retail inspection results.

CSD: What is significant about the 2013 SAMHSA retail inspection results?
TB: The 2013 SAMHSA report is important because it shows that only 9.6% of the inspected retail stores nationwide sold tobacco products to an undercover minor during 2013. This 9.6% violation rate is significantly below the 20% target violation rate set by SAMSHA. In fact, the report goes onto state that 2013 is the eighth year in the history of the SAMSHA program that all 50 states were in compliance with the retail inspection goal requirements.

CSD: Which states reported the lowest retail violation rates and the highest successful passing rates?
TB: The number of states reporting retail violation rates below 5% increased to 10 states in 2013. In addition to these top 10 states, 34 states and the District of Columbia achieved a retail violation rate below 10%, which equates to a success rate of greater than 90%. (See chart on right for full state averages.)

CSD: Why does SAMHSA conduct retail inspections with a minor who attempts to buy tobacco products?
TB: About 17 years ago, Congress adopted what is known as the Synar Amendment, named after the late Congressman Mike Synar. The Synar Amendment required states to create laws prohibiting the sale of tobacco to underage youth and for a stage agency to establish a retail inspection program to enforce the minimum age sales laws. Under this program, states must conduct retail inspections on an annual basis and report the violation rates to SAMHSA.

CSD: What other impact has the Synar Amendment retail inspections had on the youth smoking rate?
TB: The 2013 SAMHSA report also states that the Synar program has contributed to a decline in the underage youth smoking rate. In 1995, the youth cigarette smoking rate was 34.8% and in 2013 the rate had dropped to 15.7%. This 15.7% youth smoking rate is the lowest rate ever recorded since the youth smoking rate surveys began in 1991.

Retailers should be aware of their on-going accomplishments in preventing the sale of tobacco products to minors. As responsible business people, retailers are doing their part to keep tobacco out of the hands of children.