Smoke Free Coalition wants to end smoking in restaurants, bars - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

West Texas Smoke Free Coalition wants to end smoking in restaurants, bars

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West Texas Smoke Free Coalition Chairman Matthew Harris West Texas Smoke Free Coalition Chairman Matthew Harris
Stephen Locascio is General Manager of Bar PM Stephen Locascio is General Manager of Bar PM
Scott Stephenson is Manager of Jake's Sports Café and Backroom Scott Stephenson is Manager of Jake's Sports Café and Backroom
LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) -

The West Texas Smoke Free Coalition in Lubbock is hoping to put an end to smoking in restaurants and bars in the Hub City.

They will address the City Council next month asking for a new ordinance to be passed that will achieve their goal.

"We started last July as just a few of us that got together and decided that we really needed to get together to help protect the employees and the citizens of Lubbock," said West Texas Smoke Free Coalition Chairman Matthew Harris. "We're seeking assistance with getting the smoke out of these enclosed public places."

Harris says he is not trying to protect people from themselves. The group just wants to protect workers from second hand smoke.

"We are protecting the employees that are working in these conditions that are continually subjected to second hand smoke," he said. "There's an important distinction there because our goal is very focused."

Stephen Locascio is one of those workers. He is the General Manager of Bar PM and the Local Bar and Grill. He has been in the restaurant and bar business for six years and has seen the effects of second hand smoke first hand.

"One of my workers was diagnosed with a chronic cough; he thought it was just symptoms of the flu. They ran tests and everything. He worked with us for about a year and a half. That was the diagnosis solely based on his employment at bar PM," he said.

Many people argue that if an employee doesn't like a smoking environment, they need to find another job, but Locascio says it's not that easy.

"This is what I went to school for - to work in restaurants and bars and everything like that. I shouldn't have to sacrifice my health for a paycheck," he said. "I choose not to smoke for a reason and I don't think I should have to be affected by the second hand smoke."

One person who isn't happy with the smoke free plan is Jake's Sports Café and Backroom Manager Scott Stephenson.

"There are plenty of places in this town for people that don't smoke to go and they don't have to be bothered with it," Stephenson said. "If they come to a bar and it has a sign on the door that says smoking is allowed they make the choice to go in there. There are a lot of people that don't smoke normally that sometimes still smoke when they go out and have a few drinks, so I think they need to quit trying to tell other people what to do."

Stephenson says all of his employees and bartenders realize what they are getting themselves into and in his years of working there he has never encountered a medical problem because of the smoking atmosphere.

"Most, probably half of our employees or maybe most of them smoke. A lot of the non-smokers would rather wok here because they're able to make more money here than let's say they were bartending at a bar that doesn't allow smoking. They're not as busy," he said.

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