Recently, the government has introduced various anti-smoking policies, such as raising the retail price of cigarettes and introducing warning pictures on cigarette packs. Meanwhile, one out of every four adults in Korea still smokes, and in adult men, four out of ten people are smokers. Considering that the size of the smoking population is still considerable, it is inevitable to establish some smoking areas that can compromise the rights of smokers and non-smokers.
Nevertheless, there is currently no “smoking area” officially designated on the KNUE campus. Mr. Lee Yoon-bok, a staff member at the Department of General Affairs, confirmed that the university regulations officially do not set aside smoking areas in the campus. The reason for this situation can be found in the law clause.
According to the current National Health Promotion Act, buildings, schoolyards and all other areas of elementary, middle and high schools are designated as non-smoking areas. Likewise, smoking is prohibited in university’s facilities, but “facilities” are only limited to inside the buildings. Any policy on smoking outside the building is left to the discretion of each university, but KNUE does not have regulations related to it yet.
In this situation, when walking on the KNUE campus, many non-smokers feel uncomfortable due to the smoke. Smokers are also inconvenienced. There are plenty of non-smoking signs throughout the campus, but the spaces officially designated for smoking are not found. As an alternative solution, they smoke outside in the outskirts of the building or at places where most people usually do not go, but still, they cannot help being conscious of the nonsmokers’ fierce eyes.
While this is not a legal requirement, many Korean universities are installing a smoking booth or designating smoking areas and displaying them on the campus map. In the case of Korea University, closed-type smoking booths were installed in the basement of the Central Plaza and behind the Science Library. However, the closed-type booths were not well ventilated, so students did not use it much. The expensive installation cost of 20 to 30 million won was also a problem.
Each university is now designating more open smoking areas as an alternative to the problem of closed-type smoking booths. An open smoking area has the advantage of no ventilation, but its location is important. If the smoking area is too far away, smokers will not use it. Also, if the smoking area is close to where many people stay, non-smokers will complain. Smokers and non-smokers can be satisfied only if a smoking area is located at a properly selected location.
At this moment, many are still smoking on KNUE campus where there is no smoking booth or designated smoking area. In response to a reporter’s question about the possibility of installing a smoking area, Mr. Lee said that there is no plan at the moment.
Ko Chan-wook, an undergraduate student majoring in Earth Science Education, said: “I do not smoke but I want separate smoking areas on our campus like other universities. It is not only for the non-smokers who do not want to get second-hand smoke, but also for smokers.” A student smoker who asked for anonymity also agreed to say: “Smokers will welcome it if there is a smoking area with trash cans to discard cigarette butts and benches to relax.”
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