Code of the District of Columbia

Subchapter II. Inspections, Penalties, Waiver, and Employee Rights.


§ 7–741.01. Definitions.

For the purposes of this subchapter, the term:

(1) "Electronic smoking device" means any product, including one composed of a heating element, battery, or electronic circuit, that contains or delivers nicotine or any other substance intended for human consumption that can be used by a person to simulate smoking through inhalation of vapor or aerosol from the product. The term "electronic smoking device" includes any such product, regardless of whether it is manufactured, distributed, marketed, or sold as an e-cigarette, e-cigar, e-pipe, e-hookah, vape pen, or by any other product name or descriptor.

(1A) “Enclosed area” means all the space between a floor and ceiling that is enclosed on all sides by solid walls or windows or doors, exclusive of doorways, that extend from the floor to the ceiling.

(2) “Place of employment” means an enclosed area under the control of a public or private employer that employees normally frequent during the course of employment, including work areas, employee lounges, restrooms, conference rooms, classrooms, employee cafeterias, hallways, and vehicles owned by a private employer, if the vehicle is used by more than one person, and excludes a private residence, unless it is used as a child care, adult day care, or health care facility.

(3) “Public place” means an enclosed area to which the public is invited or in which the public is permitted, 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, and excludes a private residence, unless it is used as a child care, adult day care, or health care facility.

(4) "Smoking" means the inhaling, exhaling, burning, or carrying of a lightedor heated cigar, cigarette, pipe, electronic smoking device, or any other tobacco or plant product intended for human consumption through inhalation, in any manner or in any form.

(5) “Tobacco bar” means 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.


(Oct. 3, 2001, D.C. Law 14-28, § 4915; as added Apr. 4, 2006, D.C. Law 16-90, § 2(b), 53 DCR 1087; Feb. 18, 2017, D.C. Law 21-189, § 2, 63 DCR 14370.)

Prior Codifications

2001 Ed., § 7-741.

Cross References

Restrictions on tobacco smoking, see § 7-1701 et seq.


§ 7–741.02. Smoking prohibitions; inspections.

The Department of Health is authorized to conduct inspections of all places of employment and public places to ensure that the activity of smoking in such places, which is hereby prohibited, is not taking place, except that:

(1) Between April 4, 2006, and January 1, 2007, the smoking prohibition set forth in this section shall not apply to a brew pub, club, nightclub, or tavern as those entities are defined in § 25-101 or the bar and bar area of a restaurant. This exception shall not apply to an indoor restaurant table of a restaurant, as defined in § 25-101.

(2) After January 1, 2007, the exception described in paragraph (1) of this section shall expire and smoking shall be prohibited in all places of employment and public places at all times.

(3) The places described in this chapter shall be required to post signs pursuant to § 7-1704 and in accordance with regulations issued pursuant to subchapter I of Chapter 17 of this title or any other District law.


(Oct. 3, 2001, D.C. Law 14-28, § 4916; as added Apr. 4, 2006, D.C. Law 16-90, § 2(b), 53 DCR 1087.)

Prior Codifications

2001 Ed., § 7-742.

Cross References

Restrictions on tobacco smoking, see § 7-1701 et seq.


§ 7–741.03. Exemptions.

(a) The following places shall be exempt from the provisions of this subchapter:

(1) 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;

(2) A tobacco bar;

(3) An outdoor area of a restaurant, tavern, club, brew pub, or nightclub;

(4) A hotel room or motel room rented to one or more guests;

(5) 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; and

(6) Theatrical productions.

(b) A hotel licensed under § 25-113 shall be exempt from the provisions of this part once a year for one day for the purposes of hosting a special event which permits cigar smoking; provided, that the hotel shall:

(1) Notify the Department of Health in writing in advance of the event;

(2) Pay a fee of $2,500 to be remitted to the Regulatory Enforcement Fund as established under § 7-732 [repealed]; and

(3) Permit employees to opt out of working the special event with no penalty.


(Oct. 3, 2001, D.C. Law 14-28, § 4917; as added Apr. 4, 2006, D.C. Law 16-90, § 2(b), 53 DCR 1087; Sept. 14, 2011, D.C. Law 19-21, § 5102, 58 DCR 6226.)

Prior Codifications

2001 Ed., § 7-743.

Effect of Amendments

D.C. Law 19-21 designated the existing text as subsec. (a); and added subsec. (b).

Emergency Legislation

For temporary (90 day) amendment of section, see § 2 of Special Event Exemption Emergency Amendment Act of 2010 (D.C. Act 18-326, March 9, 2010, 57 DCR 2200).

For temporary (90 day) amendment of section, see § 5042 of Fiscal Year 2012 Budget Support Emergency Act of 2011 (D.C. Act 19-93, June 29, 2011, 58 DCR 5599).

For temporary (90 day) amendment of section, see § 3 of Revised Fiscal Year 2012 Budget Support Technical Clarification Emergency Amendment Act of 2011 (D.C. Act 19-157, October 4, 2011, 58 DCR 8688).

Temporary Legislation

Section 2 of D.C. Law 18-167 designated the existing text as subsec. (a) and added subsec. (b) to read as follows:

“(b) A hotel licensed under D.C. Official Code § 25-113(e) shall be exempt from the provisions of this part once a year for one day for the purposes of hosting a special event which permits cigar smoking; provided, that the hotel:

“(1) Notifies the Department of Health in writing in advance of the special event;

“(2) Has a ballroom or special event catering space with an occupancy of 500 or more persons;

“(3) Permits employees to opt out of working the special event with no penalty; and

“(4) Pays a fee of $250 to be remitted to the Department of Health Regulatory Enforcement Fund established under section 4903.”.

Section 4(b) of D.C. Law 18-167 provided that the act shall expire after 225 days of its having taken effect.

Section 3 of D.C. Law 19-53 rewrote subsec. (b) to read as follows:

“(b) A hotel licensed under D.C. Official Code § 25-113 shall be exempt from the provisions of this part once a year for one day for the purposes of hosting a special event that permits cigar smoking; provided, that the hotel shall:

“(1) Notify the Department of Health in writing in advance of the event;

“(2) Have a ballroom or special-event-catering space with an occupancy of 500 or more persons;

“(3) Pay a fee of $250 to be remitted to the Regulatory Enforcement Fund as established under section 4903;

“(4) Permit employees to opt out of working the special event with no penalty; and

“(5) Have been the recipient of a similar exemption between January 1, 2008, and October 1, 2011.”.

Section 15(b) of D.C. Law 19-53 provided that the act shall expire after 225 days of its having taken effect.

Short Title

Short title: Section 5101 of D.C. Law 19-21 provided that subtitle K of title V of the act may be cited as “Special Events Exemption Amendment Act of 2011”.


§ 7–741.04. Penalties.

An employer or person who willfully violates the requirements of this chapter by:

(1) Smoking in a prohibited area shall be subject to a fine of not less than $100 or more than $1,000; subsequent offenses shall be subject to a fine of not less than $200 or more than $1,000;

(2) Obscuring, removing, defacing, mutilating or destroying any sign posted in accordance with the provisions of this chapter shall be subject to a fine of $500; or

(3) Failing to post or maintain warning signs describing the prohibited activity and failing to notify a person observed to be smoking to stop the activity, as required by this subsection, shall be subject to a fine of $500; each day that a violation continues shall constitute a separate offense.


(Oct. 3, 2001, D.C. Law 14-28, § 4918; as added Apr. 4, 2006, D.C. Law 16-90, § 2(b), 53 DCR 1087.)

Prior Codifications

2001 Ed., § 7-744.


§ 7–741.05. Economic hardship waiver.

(a) The Mayor may grant an economic hardship waiver from the requirements of this subchapter; provided, that prior to the granting of a waiver, the applicant establishes, to the satisfaction of the Mayor, that compliance with the requirements of this subchapter has caused or will cause undue financial hardship. An economic hardship waiver shall be based on regulations issued in accordance with § 7-741.07.

(b) Notwithstanding any other provision of law, places of employment and public places where smoking is permitted pursuant to subsection (a) of this section shall:

(1) Have been in existence on or before January 1, 2007;

(2) Not permit smoking in an area that exceeds 25% of the total area, if the place of employment or public place is a restaurant as defined in § 25-101; and

(3) Be subject to conditions or restrictions as may be necessary to minimize the adverse effects of smoking and shall be consistent with the general purpose of this subchapter.


(Oct. 3, 2001, D.C. Law 14-28, § 4919; as added Apr. 4, 2006, D.C. Law 16-90, § 2(b), 53 DCR 1087.)

Prior Codifications

2001 Ed., § 7-745.


§ 7–741.06. Employee rights and protections.

(a) Places of employment and enclosed public places that permit smoking pursuant to this chapter shall not require employees to work in smoking areas provided that an employee requests to work solely in non-smoking areas.

(1) An employee who is aggrieved by a violation of this subsection shall have a private cause of action against the owner, manager, or person in charge of the place of employment or public place.

(2) An employee shall pursue and exhaust all remedies available pursuant to any collective bargaining agreement, grievance procedure, or other established means of resolving employer-employee disputes to resolve a violation of this subsection prior to commencing a civil action.

(b) An owner, manager, or other person responsible for a place of employment or public place that permits smoking under this subchapter shall not:

(1) Require an employee to work in a smoking area; provided, the employee requests to work in the non-smoking area only;

(2) Discharge or otherwise discriminate against any employee with respect to compensation or any other term, condition, or privilege of employment on the basis that the employee or applicant requested to work in a non-smoking area; or

(3) Discharge, refuse to hire, or in any manner retaliate against an employee, applicant for employment, or customer because that employee, applicant, or customer exercises any rights afforded by this chapter or reports a violation of this chapter.

(c) An employee who is aggrieved by a violation of this section shall be entitled to recover damages, including lost or back wages or salary. The court, in its discretion, may allow the prevailing party a reasonable attorney’s fee as part of the costs.


(Oct. 3, 2001, D.C. Law 14-28, § 4920; as added Apr. 4, 2006, D.C. Law 16-90, § 2(b), 53 DCR 1087.)

Prior Codifications

2001 Ed., § 7-746.


§ 7–741.07. Rulemaking.

The Mayor is authorized to promulgate rules necessary to implement this chapter. Any proposed regulations issued pursuant to this chapter shall be submitted to the Council for a 60-day period of review, excluding Saturdays, Sundays, legal holidays, and days of Council recess. If the Council does not approve or disapprove the proposed regulations, in whole or in part, by resolution within this 60-day review period, the proposed rules shall be deemed approved.


(Oct. 3, 2001, D.C. Law 14-28, § 4921; as added Apr. 4, 2006, D.C. Law 16-90, § 2(b), 53 DCR 1087.)

Prior Codifications

2001 Ed., § 7-747.

Section References

This section is referenced in § 7-741.05.