Grey Areas of Smoking Rights in Dormitory Area
Grey Areas of Smoking Rights in Dormitory Area
  • Jung Han-kyu / Editor-in-Chief
  • 승인 2012.05.23 17:34
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Every once in a while heated discussion takes place on PosB, an unofficial POSTECH BBS. Among the favorite discussion topics is smoking on campus, especially in the dormitory area. Regardless of how the discussion is sparked, the discussion takes a similar route every time. Naturally, non-smokers bring up the fact that smoking is illegal in school buildings both by the constitution and the POSTECH dormitory regulations. They also stress the fact that smoking is bad for health, and non-smokers have the right to be protected from second hand smoking. The smokers on the other hand, voice their opinions by saying that there is practically nowhere to smoke to accommodate every non-smoker? needs.
So what are the facts? The fact is that school buildings, including the rest areas are designated as non-smoking areas by the constitution. Also, according to the dormitory regulations, the dormitories as well as a five meter perimeter from the building are non-smoking areas, and the students are imposed 20 penalty points if caught smoking there. Exaggeratingly, a smoker would have to walk all the way to the 78 stairs or parking lot to smoke. As many people know already, second hand smoking is just as bad as direct smoking. In a recent study reported on Environmental Science & Technology in Jan. 2011, the third hand smoking, which is caused by the remnants of smokes on the surface of clothes or furniture, is also as toxic as the other two types of smoking.
The grey area arises from the clash between the non-smokers not wanting to smell the cigarette smoke completely and the smokers who just want some free space to smoke without having to walk on eggshells. What needs to be understood is that the smokers are fully aware that smoking is harmful and they do not really wish to smoke in front of the non-smokers. In fact, most of them know that there are more people now that abhor the smell of smoke, and they consciously smoke somewhere it cannot be smelled. However, as it is important for the non-smokers to have the right to be smoke-free, it is just as crucial for the smokers to have the right to smoking area somewhere. An anonymous regular smoker said, “While I understand that non-smokers don’t like the smoke, tightly cracking down on the five meter rule in the dormitory area is quite harsh for smokers, especially when there is no designated smoking area.” 
The smokers are almost treated as felons in the society. This kind of approach is partly caused by some shameless smokers who smoke in the middle of the street and that litter cigarette butts, which is a whole different set of story that will not be discussed further here. The problem is that the smoke does not stay in one place. In effect, just one smoker claiming for his or her smoking rights could just as well infringe upon many more non-smokers’ rights to a smoke-free environment. This is the primary reason why the “five meter perimeter” rule exists. If someone smokes right in front of the dormitory, the residents on the first floor cannot leave their windows open because the smoke spills inside very easily with a breeze. Some might say they could close the windows, but there could be people smoking at any time of day, and by the time you smell it, it’s already too late. It even becomes a life and death situation if any of the residents has asthma.
The bottom line is that it is rude to smoke inside the building, near the building, or out in public. The smoke-free area will have to continuously increase because people’s perception on tobacco has changed from a classy accessory to a cancer stick. The only logical solution to this is to build a smoking-room or an isolated smoking space, such as the rooftop so that the smokers can be guaranteed smoking rights at the same time for fairness. The law, however, can only partially solve the problem. The smokers should understand that smoking is like drinking and driving. They can choose to smoke, but they have no rights to harm others with it. To do so, they must practice it carefully and in consideration of others.