On the Thursday edition of The Chad Hasty Show, Matthew Harris of the West Texas Smoke Free Coalition spoke with Chad Hasty about his organization's efforts to ban smoking in bars and restaurants in Lubbock.

Recently, the owner of Bar PM and The Local Bar and Grill, Michael Clintsman, expressed a desire for his bars to go smoke-free, and wanted to see all other bars and restaurants in Lubbock follow suit. Now, the West Texas Smoke Free Coalition is trying to make that happen. Harris said that there is already a smoking ban in place in Lubbock, but there are some loopholes that exclude bars and some restaurants from the ban. He said that he would like to see a new ordinance drafted by the Lubbock city attorney that would close those loopholes. He added that other bar owners are in support of the measure, but have not come forward publicly because of the potential backlash.

Harris explained that, contrary to belief, the coalition is not trying to ban smoking in public altogether, such as on patios or outdoor areas. However, he added that what he would like to see is smoking banned in all enclosed public spaces, including cigar and tobacco stores.

"What we're talking about is smoking in enclosed, public places. Because outdoors or patio areas, any of these places, that's not affecting these employees. And so, I think that might be a little bit of an overreach to try to push to prohibit smoking in those areas. So that makes it easy for us to distinguish what the ordinance should enclose, what should be part of the ordinance and what shouldn't, is if there's employees that are working indoors, then it should fall under the ordinance."

Harris added that the main goal of the coalition is to protect the employees of any business that allows smoking, and that those employees should not be forced to choose between health and a paycheck.

"People shouldn't have to choose between their health and a paycheck. Sometimes, and especially in these industries, you get a job wherever you can, especially in the economic climate that we have right now. And so they are choosing to work in this industry, but they shouldn't have to trade their health just to put food on the table."

When asked about whether or not employees are really forced to work in smoke-filled environments, Harris replied that even if the employees left the business, they would just go to another smoking establishment, since those are the only places they can get a job with their skill set. He added that many of those employees are not aware of the dangers of working in bars that allow smoking, and that public education is a big part of their mission.

You can find more information on the West Texas Smoke Free Coalition on their Facebook page.  Listen to the full interview with Matthew Harris here:

You can also listen on your iPhone, iPad and other mobile devices by following the link below:

The Chad Hasty Show airs weekday mornings from 8:30 AM to 11 AM on NewsTalk 790 KFYO and online at KFYO.com.