C

Washington, D.C. Grade Card

Population Covered: 705,749

Tobacco 21 Since: February 18, 2017

The Preventing Tobacco Addiction Foundation evaluated all current statewide Tobacco 21 laws for their alignment with best practices that lead to effective prevention of youth initiation of tobacco and nicotine products.

ENFORCEMENT
GRADE: C

Designated Enforcement Agency

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Best Practice:

Health Department or Designated Agency

Washington, D.C. Enforcement:

D.C.’s Health Department is the designated enforcement agency

Age Verification

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Best Practice:

Before distributing any tobacco product, the tobacco retailer or the tobacco retailer’s agent or employee shall verify that the purchaser is at least 21 years of age. Each tobacco retailer or tobacco retailer’s agent or employee shall examine the purchaser’s government-issued photographic identification if the purchaser appears to be under 30 years of age.

Washington, D.C. Enforcement:

ID check required for any purchaser that appears to be under 30 years of age

Who is the Penalty Placed on?

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Best Practice:

The primary burden for sales to underage purchasers should fall on the retailer who is profiting from the sales of the product and not the purchaser or non-management employee.

Washington, D.C. Enforcement:

Penalty placed on retailer, clerk, and “Person”

Number of Compliance Checks

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Best Practice:

Provide authority for the state, county, or municipality to inspect tobacco retailers for compliance with MLSA 21 and a mandated minimum number of annual compliance checks. Model recommends two per year for every tobacco retail establishment.

Washington, D.C. Enforcement:

D.C.’s Tobacco 21 law does not specify number of compliance checks

Compliance Checks Done With Underage Decoys Aged 18-20

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Best Practice:

The designated agency shall conduct compliance checks by engaging persons between the ages of 18 and 20 to enter the tobacco retail establishment to attempt to purchase tobacco products.

Washington, D.C. Enforcement:

Age of decoy not specified

LICENSING
GRADE: B

Statewide Tobacco Retail License

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Best Practice:

A comprehensive tobacco retail license allows states and municipalities to regulate all tobacco retailers, fund enforcement programs, and create a penalty structure that suspends or revokes a license for retailers that continue to violate a MLSA 21 law.

Washington, D.C. Licensing:

D.C. has a comprehensive Tobacco Retail License

Tobacco Retail License Program Funds Enforcement

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Best Practice

The fee for a tobacco retail sales license shall be set and used to cover the administrative cost for licensing administration, education and training, retail inspections, and unannounced compliance checks. The tobacco retail sales license fee should not exceed the cost of the regulatory program authorized beyond the statute/ordinance.

Washington, D.C. Licensing:

D.C.’s Tobacco Retail License fee is not specifically dedicated to fund enforcement

Tobacco Retail License Fee

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Best Practice:

An effective licensing system requires tobacco retailers to pay an annual license fee and allows it to be periodically adjusted. Fee must be adequate to cover License administration, education/training, and enforcement. An annual fee of lower than $300 is generally inadequate to fund a licensing program.

Washington, D.C. Licensing:

D.C.’s Tobacco Retail License fee is $15 and renews annually

PENALTIES
GRADE: C

Penalty Type

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Best Practice:

Establish a civil penalty structure for violations rather than a criminal penalty structure.

Washington, D.C. Penalties:

D.C. will place a criminal penalty on a person who violates the sales age

Violation Accrual Period

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Best Practice:

36 months

Washington, D.C. Penalties:

D.C. does not specify length of violation accrual period

Monetary Penalty and Suspension Structure

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Best Practice:

1st violation = $500
2nd violation = $750 and (7) day suspension
3rd violation = $1,000 and (30) day suspension
4th violation = $1000 and (3) year suspension

Washington, D.C. Penalties:

Describe penalty and suspension structure:
1st Violation = fine of no less than $100 and no more than $500 and imprisoned no more than 30 days
Subsequent Violations = fine of no less than $500 and no more than $1,000 and imprisoned no more than 90 days

License may be suspended for first or second violation. License shall be revoked for third or subsequent violations.

Does the Law Penalize Youth for Purchase, Use or Possession

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Best Practice:

An evidence-based, best practices tobacco MLSA 21 policy should focus penalties on the tobacco retailer who profits from the illegal sale rather than the youth who is likely addicted to the product. PUP laws may be unlikely to reduce youth smoking significantly.

Washington, D.C. Penalties:

D.C. penalizes underage youth for purchase, use, or possession of tobacco products

PREEMPTION
GRADE: C

Does Preemption exist, was it added, or expanded

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Best Practice:

Local governments have a critical role in reducing the deadly toll of tobacco by regulating sales and restricting youth access to these products to prevent use and addiction.

Tobacco 21 legislation should not introduce new tobacco control preemption, nor expand existing tobacco control preemption, and instead should be used as an opportunity to assert local authority or repeal existing tobacco control preemption.

Washington, D.C. Preemption:

The Council of the District of Columbia is the legislative branch of local government established by the “District of Columbia Home Rule Act of 1973”, enacted by Congress and ratified by District voters

DEFINITIONS
GRADE: A

Definitions

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Best Practice:

A comprehensive definition will cover all current, known tobacco and nicotine products, which include not only cigarettes, cigars, and smokeless tobacco, but also products like pipes, rolling papers, electronic smoking devices, and other related devices. A strong definition will also be broad enough to capture future products.

Washington, D.C. Definitions:

D.C.’s Tobacco 21 law includes comprehensive definitions