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Immediate Changes Needed to SKKU’s Current Smoking Areas

As the days begin to warm up and the flowers begin to bloom in April, people start to go outside more to enjoy outdoor activities; Kingos are no exception. Since both campuses of SKKU are especially full of cherry blossoms in April, most Kingos go around the campuses and take pictures. As Kingos move around, however, it is not hard to see other Kingos smoking in the smoking areas. If the campus smoking areas were designed properly, there would be no conflict between Kingos; however, the smoking areas of SKKU on both campuses are not properly regulated. Because of this, there exists conflict between non-smokers and smokers regarding smoking areas on each campus. For this reason, the Sungkyun Times (SKT) now explores the current smoking areas on both campuses, examines the causes of the conflict between non-smoking and smoking Kingos, and proposes possible solutions to reduce the conflict.

SKKU’s Current Smoking Areas

Smoking Areas in Humanities and Social Sciences Campus/ SKKU Management Team
Smoking Areas in Natural Sciences Campus/ SKKU Management Team

According to Article 9.4 of the National Health Promotion Act, office buildings of public institutions under the Act for the Management of Public Institutions must be designated as non- smoking areas. Signs indicating that buildings are non-smoking areas can be installed, and smoking areas can also be installed. “In such cases, the owner, occupant, or manager may install smoking rooms for smokers, and the standards, methods, etc. for the installation of signs indicating non-smoking areas and smoking areas shall be prescribed by Ordinance of the Ministry of Health and Welfare.”1 All of the buildings at SKKU have been designated as non-smoking areas since December 1st, 1999. Though many smoking areas exist on both the Humanities and Social Sciences Campus and the Natural Sciences Campus, these smoking areas are not official, and that is where the problems begin.

Various Problems of Current Smoking Areas

Conflict Between Non-smokers and Smokers

Because of the way SKKU’s current smoking areas are designated, both non-smokers and smokers can feel uncomfortable. Non- smokers can feel uncomfortable and perhaps disgusted as they are involuntarily exposed to the hazards of second-hand smoke; smokers feel uncomfortable as they have to walk on eggshells even when they are smoking in a designated smoking area. Therefore, there always seems to be an unseen conflict between non-smokers and smokers, and it is indeed not too difficult to see arguments about current smoking areas on school community websites. For example, there was an incident where an argument between a non-smoker and a smoker went horribly wrong. In September, 2014, two Kingos had a fierce debate regarding smoking areas on campus, ending up with one student hitting the other student and resulting in injuries that required two weeks to recover from.

Causes of Conflict Between Non-smokers and Smokers

So, what are the potential causes of the conflict between non- smokers and smokers? There are two main issues that may have caused the conflict between non-smokers and smokers. First of all, “officially” designated smoking areas do not exist on both campuses. As mentioned earlier, there are smoking areas for the convenience of smokers, but they are not official. Because smoking areas on campus are not official, there are even some smoking areas that have non-smoking signs. For example, the space between the Toegye Hall of Humanities and the Dasan Hall of Economics on the Humanities and Social Sciences Campus is widely known as a smoking area, but a non-smoking sign is attached to the wall next to it. Another problem, probably the most serious one, with SKKU’s current smoking areas is that they violate the rights of non- smokers. Most of the conflict between non-smokers and smokers on campus arise because some of the smoking areas are near places where many Kingos pass by. That is, many non-smokers are involuntarily exposed to second-hand smoke. When designating smoking areas for the convenience of smokers, the school did not take into account the opinions of all students, and as a result, many students are suffering. For instance, on the Humanities and Social Sciences Campus, Kingos are dissatisfied with the smoking area in front of the Business School building, where most of the Kingos pass by every day. Similarly, Kingos using the rooms on the 1st floor of the Student Center and on the 3rd floor of the Suseon Hall seldom open windows because smoking areas are located right outside the windows. On the Natural Sciences Campus, many Kingos are dissatisfied with the smoking area located on the sides of the Samsung Library. The reason why officially designating official smoking areas is necessary is that current smoking areas infringe upon not only the rights of non-smokers who wish to avoid smoke, but also the rights of smokers who wish to smoke. According to a survey carried out with 116 Kingos, 95.7% of non-smokers and 95.5% of smokers answered that the designation of “official” smoking areas is needed. Secondly, there is insufficient action and punishment from the school for smoking in places where smoking is strictly prohibited. Another reason why conflict between smokers and non- smokers arises is that smokers smoke outside of the designated smoking areas. In the case of the Humanities and Social Sciences Campus, smokers smoke near places such as outside of the 4th floor of Hoam Hall and the 1st level basement of the Business School building, where smoking is prohibited. On the Natural Sciences Campus, smoking takes place in front of the General Studies building where smoking is also prohibited. According to the survey, 58.5% of non-smokers answered that they had witnessed smokers smoking in non-smoking areas, and 50% of smokers responded that they have smoked in non-smoking areas. According to Article 34 of the National Health Insurance Act, “a person who smokes in a non-smoking area […] shall be punished by an administrative fine not exceeding one hundred thousand won.”2 Fines, however, are only imposed once a report has been made, and the school itself does not crack down on people who smoke in non-smoking areas. What is worse is that the school does not notify students of the smoking areas. The SKT contacted the management team of SKKU to find out the specific locations of the smoking areas on campus, but the management team only provided maps notifying smokers of the locations of the smoking areas, and these were also vague. The management team also told the SKT to look up past announcements on the school website to find out more information. Unfortunately, nothing about smoking areas could be found there.

Possible Solutions to Satisfy Both Smokers and Non-smokers

In order for both smokers and non-smokers to coexist happily, solutions must be found for the two causes of the conflict between them.

① Designation of Official Smoking Areas

In order for the school to properly manage and punish those who smoke in smoking-prohibited areas, designation of official smoking areas on campus must take place first. Regarding the redesign and designation of official smoking areas on both campuses, the S:with student council from the Humanities and Social Sciences Campus said that it is trying to find places that not only minimize the inconvenience to non-smokers but satisfy smokers. S:with, however, conceded that it is not easy to find solutions to the problems that Kingos are facing since the campus is small. The S:with student council from the Natural Sciences Campus said, “The council considered installing smoking booths, but the issue is currently ‘pending’ any resolution because of problems such as cost, ventilation, inconvenience to the smokers, aesthetic problems, and management.” The council added that it is actively looking for examples of successful smoking booths that the school can follow and that it is also considering restricting smoking areas with tape. So, what procedures should be executed in order to fix and designate “official” smoking areas? For now, it is necessary to officially designate smoking areas based on the opinions of both smokers and non-smokers. According to the survey, Kingos feel that it is necessary to turn places such as the front of the Business School building and both sides of the Samsung Library into non- smoking areas since there are many people passing by. On the other hand, if there are any current smoking areas with which both smokers and non-smokers are satisfied, the school should designate those places as official smoking areas. It should find the common characteristics of those places and search for other places on campus that have similar characteristics and designate those places as official smoking areas as well. For example, according to the survey, most Kingos were satisfied with the smoking areas located on the 2nd floor of the Central Library from the Humanities and Social Sciences Campus and “CC Hill” on the Natural Sciences Campus.

② Strengthening Punishment and Management

In order to deter students from smoking in smoking-prohibited areas, the school should ask the local public health centers for a crackdown and to impose a _ne on those who violate the rules. In the case of Soongsil University, for instance, the school imposes a fine on students who smoke in non-smoking areas with the aid of health centers nearby. SKKU should also work on cracking-down. Before 2012, when smoking indoors took place, the management team of the Natural Sciences Campus once took active measures to diminish and to even eradicate smoking inside buildings. There was a safety department in the management team of the Natural Sciences Campus. It used Closed Circuit Television (CCTV) to identify smokers who smoked in the smoking-prohibited areas and posted pictures of them with non-smoking signs around them. The school should also actively make official announcements about smoking areas so that smokers know which places are for smoking and which are for non-smoking. In the case of Soongsil University, the school made announcements about the smoking areas on the school website, with pictures of the smoking areas and the specific locations of those areas written below. Since SKKU also has a lot of CCTVs around campus, it would be wise to make constant announcements and run campaigns to stir up the awareness of smokers on the two campuses.

Soongsil University’s Announcement about Smoking Areas on Campus/ ssu.ac.kr

It might be hard to satisfy both smokers and non-smokers. If both sides try to satisfy only their goals, the conflict of the smoking areas will never end. In order for smokers and non-smokers to live in harmony, both sides should give in and try to find a middle ground. It will be interesting to see if the student councils will be able to contribute to help solve the conflict of the smoking areas in the future.

강병찬  kpc0629z@naver.com

<저작권자 © THE SUNGKYUN TIMES, 무단 전재 및 재배포 금지>

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