State Enforcement of Federal Tobacco Access Law Varies

From 1993 to 1997, researchers at George Washington University assessed the extent of implementation of the federal Synar Amendment, which required states to pass and to enforce laws prohibiting the sale and distribution of tobacco products to persons under age 18, and described the factors influencing its implementation at the federal and state levels.

The project was part of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) Tobacco Policy Research and Evaluation Program national program.

Key Findings

The study found that:

  • All states met the basic requirement that they have in place legislation restricting the sale of tobacco products to persons under age 18.
  • There was substantial variation in the extent to which states vigorously pursued enforcement of the amendment.
  • The researchers concluded that in the short- to mid-term, the most significant effect of the Synar Amendment, especially at the state level but at the federal level as well, was the marked increase in the interaction between tobacco control advocates and substance abuse professionals because of the amendment's effect on federal substance abuse block grants to the states.