Tobacco Settlement Attorney Pushes To Eliminate Workplace Smoking In Oklahoma
OKLAHOMA CITY - The attorney responsible for the $200 billion tobacco settlement spoke in Oklahoma City, urging businessowners to eliminate workplace smoking all together, including in bars.
Sharon Eubanks is the former attorney for the U.S. Department of Justice who helped broker the 1998 tobacco settlement. And if she has her way, bars in Oklahoma would be smoke free.
Eubanks took on big tobacco and won. And she won big. The settlement she argued for not only brought in over $200 billion to states impacted by smoking, but also forced changes in the way tobacco companies lobby and advertise. It’s something she’s passionate about. She said smoking killed her father.
“Yeah, he was 52 years old at the time and I look back at the photographs we have of him and he was always smoking. When I was a kid, he would send us into the store to get his brand,” said Eubanks.
Eubanks spoke with business leaders about the importance of ending workplace smoking, even in bars and even despite bar owners concerns that it would hurt business.
“It’s a myth. It’s not true. They’ve eliminated smoking in many other jurisdictions and that has not been a problem. People are still lining up to eat in these restaurants and people are still lining up at the bars,” said Eubanks.
Commissioner of Labor Leslie Osborn added, “Many states have gone to complete bans on that and it has not shown that it has hurt them economically as a business.”
At Margarita Island in Oklahoma City, owner Chris Harris said no one has ever complained about smoking. He doesn’t want it outlawed in bars. Harris said he knows what his customers want better than the legislature does.
“If somebody doesn’t want to come in here because of the smoke, then don’t come in here because of the smoke. It’s as simple as that,” said Harris.
A bill that would have outlawed smoking in bars failed in the legislature this year. Oklahoma is one of only 12 states that does not ban smoking in bars.