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Did you know that every time a merchant sells tobacco products to a minor it doesn't only affect their health, it negatively impacts the local substance use prevention and treatment services budget by up to 20%

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Tobacco makes dollars, but it doesn't make sense. 

Disclaimer: Please note that this information is presented for educational purposes only, and cannot include all of the information required to make informed decisions regarding tobacco use; all tobacco affect every user differently. SOOAR does not endorse tobacco use, and while our team makes a best effort to provide accurate information, we do not claim that it is 100% correct. Always do your own research and be safe.

Synar Amendment

In July 1992, Congress enacted the Alcohol, Drug Abuse, and Mental Health Administration Reorganization Act (PL 102-321), which includes an amendment (section 1926) aimed at decreasing youth access to tobacco. This amendment, named for its sponsor, Congressman Mike Synar of Oklahoma, requires states (that is, all states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and six Pacific jurisdictions) to enact and enforce laws prohibiting the sale or distribution of tobacco products to individuals under the age of 18. States must comply with the Synar Amendment in order to receive their full Substance Use Prevention, Treatment, and Recovery Services Block Grant (SUBG) awards. Public Law 116-94, signed on December 20, 2019, superseded this legislation and increased the minimum age for tobacco sales from 18 to 21. 

The Synar Amendment was developed in the context of a growing body of evidence about the health problems related to tobacco use by youth, as well as evidence about the ease with which youth could purchase tobacco products through retail sources. The Synar program has been somewhat successful in preventing youth tobacco use.

Synar Regulation

In January 1996, SAMHSA issued the Synar regulation to provide guidance to the states. The regulation and updates from Public Law 116-94 requires that states:

  • Enforce underage access laws to a degree that reasonably can be expected to reduce the illegal sale of tobacco products to individuals under the age of 21.

  • Conduct annual, unannounced inspections that provide a valid probability sample of tobacco sales outlets accessible to minors.

  • Report their sampling methodology and results of the annual Synar survey as a part of the Annual Synar Report no later than December 31. This includes the State’s sampling methodology, Synar survey results, Synar inspection report, and the Synar inspection protocol.

  • Revise their methodology, inspection reports, and inspection protocols, to include the revised age requirements (under 21). In addition, the Synar survey results must now include results for sales to youth and young adults under the age of 21.

  • Achieve a noncompliance rate of no more than 20% (SAMHSA requires that each state reduce its retailer violation rate to 20%).

Tobacco makes dollars but it doesn't make sense.

When a noncompliance rate of more than 20% occurs, the PIHP for that region is penalized. If the cumulative noncompliance rate for the state is over 20%, the state is penalized.

The penalty is a is loss of up to 20% of its Substance Use Prevention, Treatment, and Recovery Services Block Grant (SUBG) funds.

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