Begin Main Content Area

Synar Survey


The Synar survey was established in July 1992 when Congress enacted the Alcohol, Drug Abuse and Mental Health Administration (ADAMHA) Reorganization Act (P.L. 102-321), which established the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). With this act, the Synar Amendment (named for its sponsor, former congressman Mike Synar of Oklahoma) was incorporated to address access to tobacco by youth under 18 years of age.

The core requirements of the law include the following:

  1. A State law prohibiting the sale or distribution of tobacco products to persons under 18 years of age;
  2. Random, unannounced inspections of both over-the-counter and vending machine outlets for tobacco products to produce credible annual estimates of the statewide sale rate of tobacco products to minors;
  3. A report from the State to the Secretary of Health and Human Services demonstrating progress toward the goal of no more than 20 percent of purchase attempts by youth resulting in obtaining tobacco products.

The annual survey is designed to assess the effectiveness of the State’s enforcement program and to fulfill the second core requirement of the law. It is conducted with youth participants who attempt to purchase tobacco products from randomly selected retailer outlets. The survey produces a probability estimate of retailer's compliance with the tobacco access law.

Reports / Tools

Select a year:


2020 Synar Dashboard

Interactive graphs and tables are displayed to explore the most recent year's results, as well as the historical results of the Synar survey from the last 10 years. Significance tests and odds ratios are displayed.

SAPT Block Grant

The above link will take you to the Substance Abuse Prevention and Treatment (SAPT) Block Grant website. To access, log in as "citizenpa" and use "citizen" as the password. The most current Annual Synar Report (ASR) can be found within the site. The ASR is the official means for Pennsylvania to comply with the reporting provisions of the Public Health Service Act (42 U.S.C. 300x-26) and the Tobacco Regulation for the SAPT Block Grant (45 C.F.R. 96.130 (e)).

Coverage Survey

Select a year:


Details the survey to test the coverage of the Synar sampling frame. Coverage surveys are run every 3 to 5 years. The Synar sample is drawn from a sampling frame created from the Department of Revenue’s Cigarette License File (CLF) containing the name and address of every outlet that purchased a license to sell cigarettes in Pennsylvania. Federal regulations require Pennsylvania to test the quality of the sampling frame by conducting a coverage survey. A valid survey relies on a valid sampling frame. Assessing the quality of the sampling frame is an important part of the survey procedure. When assessing the quality of a list based sampling frame, two deficiencies are usually measured, over-coverage and under-coverage. Over-coverage occurs when the frame contains ineligible outlets such as outlets that are not accessible to youth, duplicate addresses, no longer open for business or outlets that no longer sell cigarettes. The over-coverage rate is calculated within the Synar report and does not require a separate survey. Under-coverage, on the other hand, occurs when eligible outlets are not included on the frame and is a much more serious deficiency than over-coverage. Under-coverage requires a separate survey. The purpose of the Synar coverage survey is to estimate the under-coverage of the Pennsylvania Synar sampling frame.


Instruction Manual (PDF)

Details survey design, procedures, inspection protocol and data collection forms.

Electronic Collection Form (PDF)

Details the primary collection form used for the Synar survey.

Survey Design (PDF)

Details PA survey design.


Training PowerPoint (PDF)

PDF of the most current training PowerPoint.

Training Agenda (PDF)

PDF of the most current training agenda.

Training Webinar

Webinar of the most current training.

Other Links

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) Synar Program

SAMHSA Annual Synar Report

Quitting Tobacco