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SAMHSA’s Award-Winning Newsletter
July/August 2009, Volume 17, Number 4 

Tobacco Sales to Youth: Lower Than Ever

States Encouraged To Integrate Tobacco Prevention Efforts

In the 12th year that SAMHSA has monitored retailer tobacco sales to youth under age 18, 26 states achieved a retailer violation rate (RVR) below 10 percent, and all states and the District of Columbia fell below the required 20 percent rate.

“In addition, the national weighted average RVR for all 50 states and the District of Columbia was 9.9 percent in Fiscal Year (FY) 2008,” said Frances M. Harding, Director of SAMHSA’s Center for Substance Abuse Prevention (CSAP).

Cover of FFY 2008 Annual Synar Reports:  Youth Tobacco Sales—click to view publication

“That rate is down from 40.1 percent in FY 1997,” said Susan Marsiglia Gray, M.P.H., National Synar Program Coordinator at CSAP. Findings were released in a report entitled FFY 2008 Annual Synar Reports: Youth Tobacco Sales.

Integrating Efforts

Recently, SAMHSA hosted the 10th National Synar Workshop, which was focused on encouraging states and jurisdictions to integrate their Synar work into comprehensive tobacco control efforts. Workshop speakers included Ms. Harding, Ms. Marsiglia Gray, and Federal partners from the National Institute on Drug Abuse, National Cancer Institute, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, as well as state Synar staff.

“Every state operates differently,” said Ms. Marsiglia Gray. “But many states house Synar work in the substance abuse prevention department and other tobacco prevention efforts in the department of health. Ideally, these two areas should work together.”

Quote from CSAP Director Frances M. Harding about the low retailer violation rate in 2008

To put further emphasis on integration, CSAP co-located the Synar Workshop with the National Conference on Tobacco or Health (NCTOH), the premier national conference on tobacco control. CSAP supported two representatives from each state to attend the Synar Workshop and also supported one participant from each state to attend NCTOH.

Research shows that states that do more than rely on reducing retail sales to prevent youth tobacco use—including raising the excise tax, enacting clean indoor air policies, and creating media campaigns—have better results, Ms. Marsiglia Gray said.

The FY 2008 Synar report highlights best practices used in four states—California, Hawaii, New Hampshire, and Texas. Their efforts include grassroots campaigns, comprehensive enforcement approaches, and state tobacco control programs that include prevention efforts to limit young people’s access to tobacco.

Raising the Bar

The Synar Amendment, named for late Representative Mike Synar of Oklahoma, requires states, the District of Columbia, and the eight U.S. jurisdictions to keep RVRs below 20 percent or risk losing 40 percent of their Federal Substance Abuse Prevention and Treatment Block Grant funding.

Raising the Bar

At the workshop, Ms. Harding called for states to set even more rigorous standards. “CSAP recently set a new internal program goal to encourage all states to reduce the sales rate to less than 10 percent, which is in keeping with the initial intent of the Synar legislation—to reduce minors’ access to tobacco products,” she said.

According to Federal data, tobacco use remains the leading cause of death and disease in the United States, with more than 400,000 deaths annually attributed to smoking.

Read the FY 2008 Synar report.



  Statistics on Substance Abuse,  
  Mental Health  
State by State Estimates

State by State Estimates

Every state faces a different set of challenges with substance abuse and mental health issues, including binge drinking and depression.

Treatment Discharges: Latest Data

Treatment Discharges: Latest Data

SAMHSA's Treatment Episode Data Set (TEDS) recently updated its data on discharges from treatment facilities.


  Treatment Updates  
TIP 50: Literature Review

TIP 50: Literature Review

Part 3 of TIP 50, Addressing Suicidal Thoughts and Behaviors in Substance Abuse Treatment, is available.

Alcohol Abuse Treatment: Need, Barriers

Many people who need treatment for an alcohol problem are not seeking help. Why?

National Directory Updated and Available

National Directory Updated and Available

An updated guide to finding local substance abuse treatment programs is available.


  Real Warrior Campaign  
Reaching Out Makes a Real Difference

Reaching Out Makes a Real Difference

The Real Warriors Campaign is fighting the stigma of asking for help.


  Prevention Update  
Retail Tobacco Sales to Youth

Retail Tobacco Sales to Youth

Retail sales of tobacco products to young people continue to drop.

Parent Involvement Makes a Difference

Parent Involvement Makes a Difference

Parents play an important role in preventing substance abuse.

Suicide Prevention Update

Suicide Prevention Update

New funding, Web site redesign to improve navigation, and more.


  Grants  
Prevention Awards

Prevention Awards

To advance community-based prevention programs, $190 million to 25 grantees.

Calculating Program Allotments

A new guide provides information on procedures to calculate allocations for some key block and formula grants.

Drug Free Communities: Continuation Awards

More than 500 community coalitions nationwide recently received Drug Free Communities (DFC) continuation awards for their programs.


  Health Reform  
Nine Core Principles

Nine Core Principles

Ensuring current reform efforts include mental health and substance abuse issues.


  Mental Health  
Forecasting the Next 5 Years

Forecasting the Next 5 Years

Changes are coming to create “whole health,” person-centered care.


  Adolescents & Young Adults  
Need Treatment? Many Say No

Need Treatment? Many Say No

Nearly 7 million Americans age 18 to 25 were classified as needing treatment in the past year.


  Recovery Month  
Celebrating 20 Years of Recovery

Celebrating 20 Years of Recovery

Get up–to–the–minute updates on September's events.


  Also in this Issue  
Under the Influence: Fathers and Alcohol Use

Under the Influence: Fathers and Alcohol Use

Does dad's drinking affect his adolescent children?

Methadone Advisory

New information on the dangers of methadone in combination with other drugs.



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