Cloudy smoke rises up and surrounds a group of students gathered together with cigarettes in their hands. Soon, more students join the crew and come inside the boundary marked with tape on the ground. The words written on the tape that restricts their move stands out: Smoking Area.
Most universities allow smoking outside buildings. However recently, an increasing number of universities are starting to encourage non-smoking policies on campus. Sogang University and Chung-Ang University, for example, have decided to designate 23 and 40 smoking areas on campus respectively, from this October. Both universities followed the request of their student government associations, which aimed to satisfy the rights of smokers and non-smokers. Before the policy, students were able to smoke throughout the entire campus except for a few exceptional non-smoking areas. The smoking area policy requires students’ active participation.
“Since it is not considered right to punish students who smoke in non-smoking areas, the voluntary support of students is important,” said Ji Bong-min (Chung-Ang University, 4), the current president of CauV, the 54th Chung-Ang University Students’ Union.
However, some of the students pointed out that the policy has not been adopted thoroughly.
“As a non-smoker, I am happy with the smoking area policy,” Kwon Hyeo-rin (Sogang University, 1) said. “But some people are still not following the rules, considering that they can smoke anywhere. I am waiting for the policy to settle and to be adopted by more students.”
Korea University decided to install two smoking booths on campus as a trial. This is the first attempt to adopt a specific place for smokers on campus among universities. The space can accommodate approximately three to eight people and the school is planning to have sanitation facilities as well as an air cleaning and air conditional system inside. Creating a smoke-free environment on campus was one of the prime election promises of Kodae-Gong-Gam-Dae, Korea University’s 45th Students’ Union. Along with the installation, Korea University is also planning a campaign for anti-smoking.
Many students welcome the change.
“I think installing smoking booths is a good idea for both smokers and non-smokers, since both can satisfy their needs without confronting each other,” Yoo Jung-wan (Korea University, 1) said.
For the universities that have not yet adopted specific policies, voluntary movements initiated by the students stand out. In Gachon University, TocTalk, the 28th Students’ Union started to promote an anti-smoking movement campaign and pledged to insist that the school to adopt a non-smoking policy on campus. The school is responding positively to the request and will take on the non-smoking policy.
“Smoking and drinking on campus should not be considered as a norm,” said Kim Gil-jung (Gachon University, 4) the president of TocTalk. “We will try our best to create a clean campus starting with the ban of smoking on campus.”
Currently, Ewha has not taken any action to encourage non-smoking on campus.
Experts believe that people’s increased awareness of health concerns is the motivation behind the trend in establishing no smoking policies on university campus.
“Many young CEOs and celebrities who regularly work out and maintain their health have become role models among university students,” said Park Jin-su, a senior researcher of Daehaknaeil Research Laboratory for the Twenties. “Nowadays, fine health has become a competitive edge that one has to gain for success.”