A new report released by SAMHSA shows that the national weighted average rate of illegal tobacco sales to youth is 8.5 percent, the lowest rate reported since the inception of the Synar program. The Synar program requires States to enact and enforce laws restricting the sale of tobacco products to youth. The report also shows that the number of States reporting low rates of illegal tobacco sales to youth has increased. In FY 2011, 34 States achieved a retailer violation rate (RVR) below ten percent and 12 achieved a RVR below five percent.
Tobacco use is the leading cause of death and disease in the United States, with 443,000 deaths annually attributed to smoking or exposure to secondhand smoke (CDC, 2008). Nearly all tobacco use begins during youth and young adulthood. In fact, among adults who have ever smoked daily, 88 percent report that they first smoked by the age of 18, with 99 percent reporting that they first smoked by the age of 26. Furthermore, more than one-third of adults who have ever smoked report trying their first cigarette by the age of 14 (USDHHS, 2012). These data suggest that if youth are prevented from smoking while they are young, they will be unlikely to begin smoking as adults.