▲ Smoking booth on campusPhotographed by Jeong Ji Hyun
Last year, the 45th Korea University Student Association (KUSA) was successful in establishing a smoking booth within campus. Now, the plan that was expected to enhance the welfare of smoking and non-smoking students has been brought to question after couple months of trial. What the students think and how KUSA plans to maintain and improve this facility are left to be seen.
Two smoking booths are set up currently in the campus; one is in front of the Central Plaza and the other is just outside of Hana Square.
The building of a smoking booth was one of the campaign pledges that the previous KUSA had. Last November, the booth was constructed at last, meeting students’ expectations.
The booth is usable at any part of the day holding up to ten people at most and is equipped with an air cleaner and a smoke dust collector. Initial reactions to the booth were fairly positive. Many students were glad that they did not have to suffer from second-hand smoking any longer every time they entered or exited a building. It seemed like a win-win for smokers and non-smokers alike. “I was glad when the smoking booth was set up because smokers had a place where they can smoke without having to worry about the eyes of others or posing a serious impact on peers, little kids or the elderly visiting the school,” said Min Sang Bin (’12, Sociology).
However, after four months of actual implementation, the effectiveness of the facility waned. From the start, the plan was very dependent on the voluntary actions of students. The success of this new system relied on considerate smokers who were willing to go in the booth to smoke to prevent their peers from unwanted smoking.
The obvious problem was the fact that there was a clear shortage of smoking booths. Both the air cleaning and dust cleaning equipment were high priced devices, so the school was able to afford only two. The fact that two booths that can hold up to ten people at the same time means that only 20 people were able to use the booth. As the number of smokers highly exceeded this, it was hard to see any visible improvement.
▲ The inside of the smoking booth.Photographed by Jeong Ji Hyun
The insufficient air cleaning device was another problem. Smokers who have used the booths complained that the existing device was not enough to ensure a pleasant environment for them. Most complaints were due to the fact that when smokers gather in the booth, the inside of the small construction becomes so covered in thick smoke that one cannot see what is in front of him or her.
Although most smokers and non-smokers agree with the purpose of this booth and the positive effects it will bring, it is difficult to say that the existing smoking booths are having that anticipated effect. “The booths in Korea are very lacking compared to those of other countries like Japan. However, resolving this problem along with a few improvements, such as making larger booths and increasing the number of them, I think it could be of great use to students,” said Min.
The 46th KUSA has been taking all complaints under consideration and has been doing what they can to aid smokers and non-smokers. This March, they have put up posters containing precise manuals and explanations on how to make a pleasant environment in the smoking booth. They also provided chairs and fabric de-odorizer inside the booth. Their efforts are to be continued. It is the students’ and the council’s consistent hope that the smoking booth will be beneficiary to KU’s clean and enjoyable environment.