Synar Amendment

In July 1992, Congress enacted the Synar Amendment to the Alcohol, Drug Abuse and Mental Health Administration Reorganization Act (Public Law 102-321) aimed at decreasing access to tobacco products among individuals under 18. Named for its sponsor, Congressman Mike Synar of Oklahoma, the Synar amendment requires States to enact and enforce laws prohibiting any manufacturer, retailers, or distributor from selling or distributing tobacco products to individuals under the age of 18. The goal of the amendment is to reduce the number of successful illegal purchases by minors to no more than 20 percent of attempts in each State per year.

The Synar legislation requires that each State annually conduct random, unannounced inspections of tobacco vendors to assess their compliance with the State’s access law. Each State must submit an annual report to the Secretary of Health and Human Services describing that year’s enforcement activities, the extent to which the State reduced availability of tobacco to minors, and a strategy and timeframe for achieving an inspection failure of 20 percent or less of outlets accessible to minors. A noncompliant State may lose a percentage of its Federal block grant funds for substance abuse prevention and treatment.