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Newsroom SRS and KDOR announce new strategies to reduce underage tobacco use

Topeka - The Kansas Departments of Social and Rehabilitation Services (SRS) and the Kansas Department of Revenue (KDOR) announced Wednesday the creation on a new interagency agreement to help fight underage tobacco use.

SRS and KDOR will work jointly to ensure compliance and execution of the federally funded Synar Amendment. The Synar Amendment requires states to enact and enforce youth tobacco access laws. It also requires unannounced inspections of retail tobacco outlets to measure the State’s compliance. Under the terms of the agreement, KDOR will develop a Cigarette and Tobacco Enforcement Activity Plan to provide the maximum level of enforcement to cigarette and tobacco license across the state.

“This is an important step in reducing underage tobacco use,” said SRS Secretary Don Jordan.  “By combining our resources in this area, we monitor youth tobacco sales more effectively and efficiently.”

“Without a strong enforcement component, the state’s goal to reduce underage tobacco use cannot be realized,” reports Secretary of Revenue Joan Wagnon.  “We applaud SRS for initiating this collaboration.”  Wagnon adds, “Our agents’ presence statewide should have an immediate impact.” 

The Synar Amendment requires states to maintain a compliance rate of 80% or better for tobacco product retailers. Kansas scored an 80.1% in the last statewide review in 2006. Kansas was found to be out of compliance by the federal government for missing the 80% target rate in 2004. An obligation of $2.3 million dollars was required to develop a comprehensive statewide plan to prevent the sale of tobacco products to minors.

At the press conference, SRS also announced plans to participate in the BARS Program to further reduce youth tobacco use. The BARS Program, a private Denver-based company, is expected to conduct an additional 5,000 retail compliance checks annually. Under the agreement, the company will do selective checks in areas chosen by the state and share compliance rates by designated county and city. 

The Petroleum Marketers and Convenience Store Association presented the BARS Program to the Kansas Legislature. “History has shown that the BARS program helps raise compliance levels,” said Executive Director Thomas Palace. “This is an effective way of fighting underage tobacco use.”