1. Fund tobacco prevention and cessation programs at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention-recommended level;
2. Amend the smokefree workplace law to put additional restrictions on hookah bars; and
3. Ensure funding is budgeted so the law increasing the sales age for tobacco products to 21 can take effect.
There was much activity in the City Council around tobacco control in 2016, including the Tobacco Bar Regulation Amendment Act of 2015 which would prohibit the licensing and operation of tobacco bars located adjacent or abutting a residential property. Existing tobacco bars that have already been approved by the Department of Health are allowed to continue to operate. The bill was not voted on in 2016, but the American Lung Association in the District of Columbia hopes the bill will be re-introduced and considered in 2017.
Three important bills were passed by the city council and signed by the mayor in 2016 with the intent to decrease youth tobacco use. The Sporting Events Smoking and Smokeless Tobacco Restriction Amendment Act of 2016 will prohibit smoking and smokeless tobacco from event sites for organized sporting events, including Nationals Park. The new law took effect once it was signed by the mayor.
The second bill the Prohibition Against Selling Tobacco Products to Individuals Under 21 Amendment Act of 2015 amends the current District law to prohibit the sale of tobacco products to those under 21 years of age. Presently, the law prohibits the sale of cigarettes to those under 18 years of age. The new law will only take effect though if money is budgeted for its implementation in the 2017 budget.
The third and final bill, the Electronic Cigarette Parity Amendment Act of 2016 will prohibit the smoking of electronic cigarettes in all areas where smoking is currently prohibited by law, including public spaces and places of employment. The new law also took effect when signed by the mayor.
The American Lung Association in the District of Columbia will continue to educate lawmakers on the ongoing fight against tobacco. Our goal is to build champions within the city council and a groundswell of advocates to advance our goals: increased funding for tobacco prevention and cessation, putting additional restrictions on smoking in hookah bars, and ensuring the new Tobacco 21 law will be fully implemented.