IPCPR Legislative | Restrictions in Washington D.C.

Restrictions in Washington D.C.


Smoking, Age and Sampling Restrictions in Washington D.C.

D.C. law prohibits smoking in all: places of employment, including work areas, employee lounges, restrooms, conference rooms, classrooms, employee cafeterias, hallways, private residences used as child care, adult day care, or health care facilities, and vehicles owned by a private employer, if the vehicle is used by more than one person; and public places, including banks, educational facilities, health care facilities, laundromats, public transportation facilities, reception areas, restaurants, retail food production and marketing establishments, nightclubs, retail service establishments, retail stores, shopping malls, sports arenas, taverns, theaters, and waiting rooms.


D.C. Code § 7-742: Smoking prohibitions



The following are exempt from the ban on smoking, subject to conditions:

  • A retail store that is used primarily for the sale of tobacco products and accessories in which the total annual revenue generated by the sale of non-tobacco products or accessories is no greater than 25% of the total revenue of the establishment, provided that it does not share space with any other establishment
  • A tobacco bar, defined as a restaurant, tavern, brew pub, club, or nightclub that generates 10% or more of its total annual revenue from the on-site sale of tobacco products, excluding sales from vending machines, or the rental of on-site humidors
  • An outdoor area of a restaurant, tavern, club, brew pub, or nightclub
  • Designated hotel or motel rooms
  • A medical treatment, research, or nonprofit institution where the activity of smoking is conducted for the purpose of medical research or is an integral part of a smoking cessation program
  • Theatrical productions
  • A hotel, once a year for one day, for the purpose of hosting a special event that permits cigar smoking, provided that the hotel must:
    • Notify the Department of Health in writing in advance of the event
    • Pay a fee of $2,500 to be remitted to the Regulatory Enforcement Fund, and
    • Permit employees to opt out of working the special event with no penalty


D.C. Code § 7-743: Exemptions
D.C. Code § 7-741: Definitions


Retail stores and tobacco bars must submit a Smoking Exemption Form to the Department of Health, formally requesting the exemption.


Smoking Exemption Form http://dbh.dc.gov/sites/default/files/dc/sites/doh/publication/attachments/DOH%20Smoking%20Exemption%20Form.pdf

Individuals under 18 years of age cannot purchase, possess, or attempt to purchase any cigarette or tobacco product. However, this prohibition does not apply to a person under 18 years of age who is handling or transporting cigarettes or other tobacco products under the terms of his or her employment. Individuals under 18 years of age also cannot falsely represent their age or possess fraudulent identification documents for the purpose of purchasing, possessing, or consuming cigarettes or other tobacco products in the District.


D.C. Code § 7-1721.03


Similarly, it is illegal to sell, give, or furnish any cigarette or other tobacco product to, or purchase any cigarette or other tobacco product on behalf of, any person under 18 years of age. Any person who sells any cigarette or other tobacco product and who has reasonable cause to believe that a person who attempts to purchase the product is under 27 years of age must require that the purchaser present identification that indicates his or her age.


Every place of business where a person sells any cigarette or other tobacco products must post a warning sign that includes the following:


No person under 18 years of age shall purchase any cigarette or other tobacco product. Sales clerks will ask for proof of age from any person seeking to purchase any cigarette or other tobacco product who appears to be under 27 years of age. The United States Surgeon General has issued a warning that smoking causes lung cancer, heart disease, emphysema, and may complicate pregnancy.


D.C. Code § 7-1721.02

Federal regulations prohibit free samples of cigarettes and limit free samples of smokeless tobacco products to certain age-restricted venues under several conditions.


Regulations Restricting the Sale, Distribution, and Marketing of Cigarettes, Cigarette Tobacco, and Smokeless Tobacco: Consumer Fact Sheet

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