The Department of Health works to reduce exposure to secondhand smoke through the drafting and implementation of laws and regulations that restrict smoking in public places.
Secondhand smoke is a proven health hazard. The Department of Health Functions Clarification Amendment Act of 2006 prohibits smoking in most public places. The law became effective on April 4, 2006. The law makes it a violation of District law for any person to smoke in an area where it is prohibited. It is also a violation for an employer, owner, manager, or person in authority to permit smoking in prohibited areas or to fail to post "No Smoking" signs.
For more information or to request free "No Smoking" signs, contact the Tobacco Control Program at (202) 442-5433 or email the Program at [email protected]
The law requires that virtually all establishments and businesses with employees be smoke-free.
This includes work areas, employee lounges, restrooms, conference rooms, classrooms, employee cafeterias, hallways, and vehicles owned by a private employer. Private residences are exempt unless used as a childcare, adult day care or health care facility.
According to the law, smoking is prohibited in all enclosed public places in the District of Columbia, including but not limited to the following:
- Health care facilities
- Educational facilities
- Public transportation facilities Reception areas
- Restaurants Retail food production and marketing establishments
- Retail service establishments Retail stores
- Shopping malls
- Sports arenas
- Waiting rooms
Penalties for violations of the law
Person(s) or Employer who willfully violates the law are subject to the following penalties for each violation:
Smoking in a prohibited area:
- First violation: Penalties of not less than $100 and not more than $1,000
- Subsequent violation: Penalties of not less than $200 and not more than $1,000
Failure to notify person observed to be smoking to stop the activity:
- Penalty of $500: each day violation continues is a separate offense.
- Obscuring or defacing a sign: Penalty of $500.
- Failure to post a sign: Penalty of $500; each day that the violation continues is a separate offense.
The District of Columbia Department of Health assists with enforcement of the law. Staff conducts routine and complaint-driven inspections to determine compliance with the "Smoke-Free Workplaces Law"
How to Register a Complaint
If you would like to register a complaint, you may contact the Department of Health at (202) 442-5433 or by submitting a Complaint Form.
- A Report of the Surgeon General – The Health Consequences of Involuntary Exposure to Tobacco Smoke
- DOH Function Clarification Amendment Act of 2006 [PDF]
- Executive Summary of the Surgeon General's Report [PDF]
- List of Exempt Establishments and Smoking Exemption Application
- Online Complaint Form
- DC Tobacco Business Licenses & Smoke-Free Workplaces Law FAQs [PDF]