Despite a slight uptick between 2011 and 2012, tobacco sales to minors in all 50 states and the District of Columbia remain near record lows.
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) implements the 1996 Snyder Amendment to the Alcohol, Drug Abuse, and Mental Health Administration Reorganization Act of 1992, requiring states and U.S. jurisdictions to conduct random inspections of tobacco retailers.
The program originally required each state to reduce its violation rate to 20 percent or less by 2003.
SAMHSA's latest report shows the national average rate of tobacco sales to minors in 2012 was 9.1 percent. In 2011, the rate of sales to minors reached a record low of 8.5 percent.
Synar program coordinator Susan Marsiglia Gray said, "In the 16 years of existence of the Synar program, states have really made significant progress in reducing tobacco sales to youths."
"Almost 90 percent of daily smokers first smoke by the age of 18, " Gray says. "We know that if youths are prevented from smoking while they are young, they will be unlikely to begin smoking as adults."
Gray attributes the slight increase to the proliferation of smokeless tobacco products and challenges at the state level.