ADVISORY: New Law Bans The Sale Of Flavored Tobacco, Menthol Cigarettes And Electronic Smoking Devices Within A Quarter Mile Of Middle and High Schools In the District
On October 1, 2022, a new law called the Flavored Tobacco Product Prohibition Amendment Act of 2021 took effect in the District of Columbia. This law:
- Prohibits the sale of all flavored tobacco—including flavored synthetic nicotine products.
- Prohibits the sale of all electronic smoking devices within a quarter mile of any middle or high school in the District.
The prohibition on flavored tobacco includes any flavor other than tobacco, including “menthol.” The law presumes that a tobacco product is a flavored tobacco product if there are any texts, images, statements, or actions by the manufacturer that suggests the product has a flavor other than tobacco.
Electronic smoking devices include any device that uses a heating element to deliver a vapor or aerosol with nicotine or any other substance in it for human consumption. It includes “vapes,” “vape pens,” “e-cigarettes,” “e-cigars,” “e-hookahs,” or any other product with that function, regardless of what it is called.
The distance from a school is determined from the closest point between the school grounds and the property containing the retail space. Schools with combined campuses qualify if any students at that location are in grades 6 – 12. District of Columbia Public Schools, District of Columbia Charter Schools, and private schools all qualify.
Penalties for violations begin at $25 for individuals and range up to $10,000 for businesses. In addition, violations may be prosecuted as unfair or deceptive trade practices and may result in the suspension or revocation of any applicable business license. Civil penalties increase with each violation of the law; further details concerning civil penalties are listed in the law.
Pursuant to the law, there is an exception for the on-site consumption of flavored tobacco products at properly licensed hookah bars that were lawfully doing business in the District as of September 20, 2021, or previously. Hookah bars are defined within the Act to be a restaurant, tavern, brew pub, club or nightclub that does not admit patrons under the age of 21 and that generates revenue from the onsite consumption of tobacco products used by hookah. A hookah bar doing business in the District as of September 30, 2021, will not need to relocate to be in compliance with this section.
Violations may be reported to the DLCP Consumer Protection Unit (CPU) form.
In most cases, an investigator is assigned within 3 business days. Investigations are typically completed within 30 business days.
Contact DLCP at [email protected] or 202-671-4500 if you have questions or for more information.
The sale of electronic smoking device within one quarter mile of any middle or high school is prohibited. This DLCP E-Cigarette Enforcement Map shows the spatial relationship between school and licenes e-tobacco businesses in DC. Please report any violations to [email protected] or 202-671-4500.