It’s Everybody’s Business is a program adopted by state agencies and organizations in Kansas to educate tobacco retailers and communities about the law regulating cigarettes and tobacco product sales to youth and help deter underage tobacco use.
It’s Everybody’s Business has developed many free educational resources for tobacco retailers including an informational web site, training manuals, in-store signage, employee training video, and more. Studies show that retailer education programs and strict law enforcement have been successful in reducing sales to underage youth. Tobacco Retailer’s Educational Tool Kit
Free educational resources also have been developed for communities and concerned citizens and are available through It’s Everybody’s Business. Community Coalitions and Concerned Community Members Educational Materials
State Law Regulating Tobacco Sales to Youth: The Synar Amendment
In 1992, Congress enacted the Alcohol, Drug Abuse and Mental Health Administration Reorganization Act that included an amendment known as the “Synar” Amendment. This amendment is aimed at decreasing youth access to tobacco. It was named for its sponsor, Congressman Mike Synar of Oklahoma. It requires all states to enact and enforce laws prohibiting the sale or distribution of tobacco products to individuals under the age of 18.
In addition to enacting laws restricting youth access to tobacco products, the Synar Amendment requires that all states conduct ongoing inspections of retail outlets to determine if these outlets are in compliance with the youth access law. These inspections are conducted by law enforcement officers employed by the Kansas Department of Revenue/Alcoholic Beverage Control.
Kansas has approximately 2,500 licensed cigarette retailers, and each year a specified number of these retail outlets are randomly selected to ensure compliance with the Synar Amendment. All states, including Kansas, are required to maintain a compliance rate of 80 percent or better for these inspections. States that fail to meet the compliance requirements stand to lose millions of dollars in federal funding for substance abuse prevention and treatment programs.
It’s Everybody’s Business Launched
In 1999, It’s Everybody’s Business was launched as a statewide initiative by the Kansas Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services (now the Kansas Department for Aging and Disabilities Services), and the Tobacco Free Kansas Coalition. It was designed to provide educational information and resources for tobacco retailers and other community members in an effort to decrease youth access to cigarettes and other tobacco products, and to protect children from the addictive and deadly risks associated with tobacco use.
In 2005, when the Kansas compliance level fell below the 80 percent requirement, the program was re-energized. Many state agencies and organizations collaborated to devise and implement additional strategies to restore Kansas to its previous record of tobacco retailer compliance rates, thus avoiding the loss of federal funds.
Recently, Kansas has added a new law that prohibits the sale of e-cigarettes to persons younger than 18 years of age. This law is specific to the state of Kansas and is not part of the Synar Agreement.
Through the dedicated efforts of many people from many organizations, It’s Everybody’s Business succeeded in raising awareness among retailers and other concerned citizens about the importance of halting youth access to tobacco products. As a result, Kansas met the Synar Amendment compliance requirements in 2006, and avoided costly penalties that would have had an adverse impact on the state’s substance abuse and prevention programs. Today, It’s Everybody’s Business continues to provide valuable information for tobacco retailers and others who work to deter youth access to cigarettes and other tobacco products.